Even though I like things to be clear and concise when I read them, I do love decluttering a piece of writing. I revel in sorting things out (a bit like a messy room – I love to plan my attack and get straight in!). Anyway, today I got to utilise this skill whilst rewriting a section of a non-fiction book for someone and got so carried away with the process that I just couldn’t put it down. My aim was to guide the reader through a series of logical steps, and at the same time make the information easier to understand. Whilst I was rewriting it, I found myself drawing diagrams to explain the information (for the more visual learner).
To cut a long story short, I really enjoyed doing this exercise which made me realise where my passion lies: “I love making things easy for other people to understand”. I’ve also just realised that this blog ‘My Writing Notebook’ is a classic example i.e. this is the 294th day of learning a writing tip and presenting it in a way that someone else can understand it (I hope I’ve succeeded in the posts so far!).
“Rewriting is where the game is won or lost; rewriting is the essence of writing”
To quote more from William Zinsser’s audio programme On Writing Well – he likes to:
- …replace an awkward phrase with one that is more graceful
- …strengthen the transition between one sentence and another
- …to see his piece growing in clarity, simplicity and brevity and strength
Zinsser also explains how much pleasure he gets in seeing a piece of writing ‘growing in clarity and strength’ right before his eyes. I believe that this feeling can be applied to someone else’s information as well as your own.
6 further thoughts:
- Rewriting is required when all the facts are there, but it isn’t quite presented in a way that someone new would understand.
- If you make the information concise and draw attention to the important points, you will have more chance of captivating the reader and keeping them engaged.
- Bullet points are useful for those who like short sharp information.
- Breaking the piece up with sub headings is ideal for readers who like to scan read.
- Never overload your reader; instead, captivate them and leave them wanting more.
- The way the information is presented helps the page come to life.
My aim today, when editing the section of the non-fiction book, was that anyone (irrespective of knowledge) could understand what I had written – I hope I succeeded. Only time will tell…