#4 – VERBS – BEING CONCISE & PRECISE 1

RESTORE BY NUMBERS

I provide a passage from a master that has been vandalized (by me) at the numbered locations.  You restore the original. 

THE CRIME:

The guns are no longer being fired (1) before Procter’s reinforcements can be brought forward or the Indians on the opposite bank can get across (2) the river.  . . . Dudley’s men . . . stand or sit idly (3) around the useless guns, confused and disorganized . . . In vain, Harrison, watching from the fort, makes a signal to them (4) to return . . . More Indians appear . . . The Kentuckians run quickly after (5) the painted enemy . . . The slowly retreating tribesmen implement a plan to draw their quarry (6) farther and farther away . . . and deeper into a wooded labyrinth, marked by (7) ravines and filled up with (8) stumps and logs . . .

Clue:  The underlined verb phrases are loose and imprecise.  Tighten them up; use fewer words.

Copy and paste the passage elsewhere in order to edit it.  Don’t be concerned if you can’t guess the author’s exact phrasing – unless you claim paranormal powers.  Then check E.J.’s comments below.

A Tip:

Cut down your text. – Stephen King

THE ORIGINAL (Pierre Berton in “Flames Across the Border”):

The guns have been silenced (1) before Procter’s reinforcements can be brought forward or the Indians on the opposite bank can cross (2) the river.  . . . Dudley’s men . . . loiter (3) around the useless guns, confused and disorganized . . . In vain, Harrison, watching from the fort, signals them (4) to return . . . More Indians appear . . . The Kentuckians tear after (5) the painted enemy . . . The slowly retreating tribesmen draw their quarry (6) farther and farther away . . . and deeper into a wooded labyrinth, creased by (7) ravines and encumbered by (8) stumps and logs . . .

E.J.’s Comments:

Even though (1) is a passive verb, it has been strengthened.  Even participles (7 & 8) can be strengthened.  Note other striking visual details created by imagery:  “painted enemy” and “wooded labyrinth”.  They speak volumes . . . in few words.

Bonus Tip:  Less is often more.  You’ve heard that before.

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About EJ Lavoie

Writer and independent publisher with website www.WhiskyJackPublishing.ca
This entry was posted in RESTORE BY NUMBERS, WRITING and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to #4 – VERBS – BEING CONCISE & PRECISE 1

  1. Kay Camden says:

    Good examples. I learn best by seeing real examples. Thanks for this.

  2. EJ Lavoie says:

    For me, teaching is learning.

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