This week, in a course for new college students, I decided to bring out one of my all-time favorite writing activities. This exercise has proven particularly effective for first-year students, especially if they’re reasonably comfortable writers already. It’s a strangely fun activity designed to teach a critical part of editing: cutting unnecessary words and simplifying complex phrases.
I distributed a worksheet with a single 26-word sentence on it.
This sentence came from a highly regarded historical monograph. It was written by a distinguished historian and released by a major university press. I won’t identify the source here because I have no desire to shame this author in public. As I told my students, it’s a great book. It’s just unnecessarily hard to get through.
I chose the sentence partly because it has some obvious redundant language—unnecessary complexity that many readers can spot quickly when they think about it.
The worksheet I distributed looked sort of like this:Continue reading “Revising for Clarity and Brevity: A Worksheet Activity”