I found a couple of quotes I wanted to share with you.
"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." Anton Chekhov
When you are describing
A shape, or sound, or tint;
Don't state the matter plainly
But put it in a hint,
And learn to look at all things
With a sort of mental squint.
"I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter." James Michener
With these quotes in mind, I went to my computer and pulled up my first middle grade manuscript I had written. I was so excited when I finished this story, I couldn't believe that I had put so many words to paper (even though, I believe it was a mere 9000 words).
That story has since been re-written a couple of times. The first time, I added more detail to up the word count. And more recently, after reading everywhere that some editors don't read past the first page before putting your manuscript into the slush pile, I went straight to the exciting part, and now the beginning of my story is what used to be the beginning of chapter three.
With Chekhov's quote in mind, I scanned my manuscript, looking for telling.
Here are some examples I found.
The air was hot, and perspiration dripped from Jan's long black hair. She reached in her pocket for a rubber band and gathered her damp hair into a ponytail.
OK, The air was hot has got to go.
Any suggestions? How about - The hot stagnant air in the attic caused perspiration to drip from Jan's long black hair.
The night air was stuffy and lightning flashed in the distant sky.
The night air was stuffy has got to go.
Any suggestions? How about - Crickets chirped in the motionless air and lightning flashed in the distant sky.
The sound of the rain was deafening as it hit the old tin roof, which was inches above their heads.
How about changing it to something as simple as - The pounding rain bombarded the old tin roof, which was inches above their heads.
I've bared my soul and my writing. Feel free to offer your professional (or amateur) suggestions to an aspiring author who is eager to learn and grow.
We all need to be good re-writers. Sometimes we can see the err in other people's writing more than we can see it in our own.