Congratulations to Chris for winning a copy of Dreaming in Hindi. I will be e-mailing you for your mailing address.
I want to try something different for today. James Frey in his book How to Write a Damn Good Novel gave some good tips on writing good prose. I thought it might be fun to use these tips to revise a passage as a group.
Below is a passage written by yours truly. After the passage, I will give a tip from the book for improving it. I invite you to rewrite the passage in the comments. If people like exercise, I will choose one of the comments as a starting point for revision using the next tip and so on.
Here's the passage:
Sarah arrived at school eager for the afternoon's Halloween party. As she sat down at her desk, she looked inside her bag for her costume. Most of her robot costume was there, but she couldn't find the helmet. She looked around but couldn't see it anywhere. She asked her teacher whether she had seen it, but the teacher said no.
By recess time, Sarah was very worried indeed. What would she do? She couldn't possibly be a robot without a helmet. Finally, she had an idea. She found the school janitor and asked him to open the supply closet. In the supply closet, she found an old bucket that fit perfectly on her head. Her costume was saved.
And here's the first revision tip: be specific. Frey rewrites “When Mrs. Applegate arrived at the terminal, the train had already left,” as “When Beatriz Applegate arrived at the Reno's Amtrak terminal, she found the 5:15 for San Francisco disappearing on the western horizon.” You don't necessarily have to be that elaborate, but you get the idea.
Can used this tip to rework the passage? Please leave your revisions in the comments!