It is seldom that the first draft of an article cannot be improved by a careful revision. In going over his work, word by word and sentence by sentence, the writer will generally find many opportunities to increase the effectiveness of the structure and the style. Such revision, moreover, need not destroy the ease and naturalness of expression.
To improve the diction of his article, the writer should eliminate (1) superfluous words, (2) trite phrases, (3) general, colorless words, (4) terms unfamiliar to the average reader, unless they are explained, (5) words with a connotation inappropriate to the context, (6) hackneyed and mixed metaphors. The effectiveness of the expression may often be strengthened by the addition of specific, picture-making, imitative, and connotative words, as well as of figures of speech that clarify the ideas and stimulate the imagination.
Sentences may frequently be improved (1) by making their grammatical structure more evident, (2) by breaking up long, loose sentences into shorter ones, (3) by using short sentences for emphasis, (4) by varying the sentence length, (5) by transferring important ideas to the beginning of the sentence.
Every paragraph should be tested to determine whether or not it is a unified, coherent group of thoughts, containing not more than 100 words, with important ideas effectively massed at the beginning.
Finally, revision should eliminate all errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. Every minute spent in improving an article adds greatly to its chances of being accepted.
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