Tuesday, March 4, 2008

MARCH WRITING TIP # 1 (Something to do with erasers)

It’s March, which has some students in North Carolina biting their nails. Grades 4, 7, and 10 have writing assessments.

So I’ve decided to post a few of my favorite writing tips! Here’s the first!


As it turns out, the eraser is the author’s best bud! We are constantly revising. Sometimes we move paragraphs or whole chapters around. Or cut them out completely! We also go through our manuscripts often – sometimes with an eye for vivid description or maybe to instensify the conflict or just to improve the dialogue.

Later, when our editors finally offer a writing contract, they usually provide a list of suggestions for improving our manuscripts.

And after we revise for our editors?

You guessed it. They always want more. And then a few more. And then a tweak here or an erasure there…

I’m lucky because my editor allows me to have control over my manuscript. She doesn’t make changes herself. And she reminds me that, in the end, the changes are my decision. But we do have multiple phone conversations that ever so gradually hone my book to perfection.

Okay, so maybe not exactly perfection.

But always, it is vastly improved over the original version. Which is only to say -be willing to take criticism. Let go of your beautiful words. Rewrite and see how your work improves!

And when the state of North Carolina instructs you to have two # 2 sharpened pencils on hand, make sure their erasers are clean and user friendly!


  1. I love this post! A willingness to make changes is truly a gift. And it's always good to hear a writer say that those changes are her decision to make. The editor is a guide and a cheerleader, not a maniac with an ax!

  2. I love that my editor lets me make the changes. Sometimes I go nuts trying to figure out what precisely she wants but it's good for me to find it out for myself rather than have her fix it or tell me what to do.

  3. Does this apply to polio research projects and American lit papers too?

  4. Yes, Ms. Lizzy - it especially applies to papers about polio. And American Lit. But I know you are going to do a fabulous job as always!