Thursday, December 15, 2011

Editing advice from Richard Rhodes

In case you missed it: Richard Rhodes (pictured), author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Making of the Atomic Bomb,” recently offered some excellent editing advice in The Wall Street Journal. His advice is especially helpful for beginning writers.

Here’s an excerpt.

The work of writing, I tell [students], isn’t simply copying down their self-talk. If they think so, I say, try transcribing a conversation and see how much is redundant or extraneous.

No, the work of writing is deliberately choosing a voice, a fictional construct, in which to argue or narrate, and then, through draft after successive draft, composing and editing a translation of their self-talk into prose that others can read and understand.

The Takeaway: I have nothing to add except my frequent reminder: keep reading. In particular, spend at least 10 minutes a day reading aloud from writers who write clearly; it will help you follow Mr. Rhodes’ advice more easily.

See disclaimer.

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