You’ve heard of writing prompts, now we have revision prompts! Each prompt will give you a specific writing issue to check for in your WIP, along with tips on how to fix each. Going through this process one issue at a time will not only help polish your current novel but will also teach you specific ways to improve your writing for your next story.
FIND: Search your WIP for the word “reached.”
EXAMINE: Is the word “reached” used in conjunction with another action (reached for the screwdriver and picked it up). If the word is used simply to get the character’s hand to an item before doing something, it is unnecessary.
FIX: Take out “reached” plus any prepositional phrase that goes with it (often “for,” “into,” and “around”) and the word “and” that links it to the true action going on in the sentence (usually right before the second verb). Some restructuring of the sentence might be needed as well.
WHY? – Readers understand that in order to touch something or pick something up, a person must reach for it first, so they automatically include the action of reaching along with action. Including this small movement takes the emphasis away from the true action in the sentence, and since it’s not truly needed, taking it out tightens the writing.
He reached for the strands of hair the wind blew loose and tucked them back behind her ear.
He tucked the strands of hair the wind blew loose back behind her ear.
He reached into the fridge and pulled out three Cokes.
He pulled three Cokes out of the fridge.
She reached for the pistol in the top drawer of her desk, pulled it out, and aimed it at the burglar.
She pulled the pistol out of the top drawer of her desk and aimed it at the burglar.
One of the keys to publication is a willingness to learn. We hope our Revising Prompts will help you learn more about the craft of writing and speed you on your way to publication.