If only I could write a flawless first draft.
Sounds like such an appealing goal, doesn’t it?
To have perfection flow effortlessly from my fingertips…
Meanwhile, back in reality, we’ve all experienced the truth of Ernest Hemingway’s candid observation:
The only kind of writing is rewriting.
But once you’ve written a perfectly functional first draft, what’s your next step?
Revision, of course. But how?
10 Quick Revision Tips That Will Make You a Way Better Writer
Today, I’m sharing ten quick revision tips that will instantly make your writing more readable.
Note: These tips are for revising a draft that has already been written. Don’t waste your time and energy trying to avoid making these mistakes in the first place.
(If you want to know why, check out Lesson #5 of my FREE mini course “Overcome Perfectionism and Just Write: 7 Surprising Strategies to Get Your Writing Flowing.”)
Tip #1: Read your draft aloud
There’s nothing like reading your own writing aloud to help you realize, “That’s not what I meant to say!” and “That’s not the right word” and “That’s so confusing!”
Tip #2: Search for There
Four of the worst ways to start a sentence are:
- There is
- There are
- There was
- There were
Search your document for each one. When you find it at the start of a sentence, find an easy way to re-word it.
Tip #3: Swap general nouns for specific
Your readers’ brains latch on to specific details. Draw them into your writing by telling them the kind of car (sedan), the brand of soda (Mountain Dew), the type of shoe (boots).
Avoid thing(s) whenever possible!
Tip #4: Aim for action verbs
Non-action verbs include is, was, were, be, been, etc.
As you go through your perfectly functional first draft, replace them with action verbs whenever possible.
For example: “I was happy” becomes “I smiled”
Tip #5: Eliminate most -ly words
Search for all words ending in -ly.
Quickly. Honestly. Slowly. Unfortunately.
Delete ‘em all.
Tip #6: Axe very
Find each instance of very in your draft.
Delete ‘em all.
very overused word.
Tip #7: Check sentence lengths
Look at your sentence length variety.
In each paragraph (or block of 8-10 sentences), make sure you have at least one longer sentence and one shorter sentence.
Tip #8: Cut to the chase
Eliminate long wind-ups, such as:
- The point I wish to make is that …
- It is my hope that you will …
- I think that we can safely say on this topic …
For many writers, these kinds of phrases are a vital part of the drafting process; they help us get our brains in gear and the words flowing.
So don’t avoid them while drafting.
Just take ’em out in during revision.
Tip #9: Read your draft aloud. Again.
Again, with feeling.
Notice what’s working well … and what needs more work.
Tip #10: What works for you?
(Leave a comment with your best quick revision tip!)
Dreaming of the perfect first draft is fun but frivolous.
Focus on developing revision skills that serve your reader.
Serving your reader is what makes you a better writer.