Since Quora likes to collapse my answers in an effort to keep me quiet, I’m copying and pasting some of the Quora Q and A’s in which I’ve participated. Here’s a question from Quora.
Question: How can I improve the following sentence?
Addendum: They hence end up preferring better ways of ensuring that these issues never arise again in their counties.
Answer: Good question, a question worthy of an editor.
We certainly have an ugly, clunky sentence up there. What’s it saying? What will the paragraph explain? These are questions a writer, or an editor, must be able to answer.
As I’ve stated ad nauseam: When you’re writing your story, article, post, whatever, just write what you’re thinking, but when you’re done writing, you need to find the best possible way to make a point to a target audience. Write for you. Edit for an audience.
Let’s look at the sentence again:
They hence end up preferring better ways of ensuring that these issues never arise again in their counties.
Okay, it seems to me that they, their issues, and their countries are the points in question.
By focusing on the meaning behind the words, we learn that people have ended up ensuring that some issues never arise in their countries. The simplest expression, I believe, is this:
They discovered better ways to prevent the issues from ever again arising within their countries.
In order to make it more complex, I need to know how they came up with better ways to prevent issues from arising. If I assume it’s through education, I write a more complex sentence.
For instance: Due to an improved educational system, they devised better ways to prevent the issues from ever again arising within their countries.
Such a case can, and should, be extended within the paragraph. Obviously, this person from Quora wasn’t writing a single sentence, but an entire article or maybe even a book. In such an event, it may be necessary to simplify such a complex sentence, and write two or three simpler sentences, but that really depends on the target audience; will it be fifth graders or grad students?
Editing is not only about finding the most cogent way to present ideas; it is also about presenting the cogent ideas in terms best suited for a specific audience. Many ideas are too complicated for a single sentence. That’s precisely why we write in paragraphs.
A paragraph should contain only a single idea, and each of its sentences should only be present to support and expound upon that idea, which is why some sentences are more complex than others, and is why some paragraphs are longer than others.
Can your editing software handle all that? Hire an editor. Your readers deserve it.
BT dubz, don’t forget that June is my BOOM month. If you don’t know what that is, read about it here….
Thanks for reading. Like, share, and all that jazz.