Smuggle and Stitch, part 2 – with samples

I promised I would share some examples of this type of revising. This may not be the best illustration I could offer, but I didn’t want to make things run too long. It is taken from my current work-in-progress (wip) about five sisters who set out on what may be the last road trip they will ever take together. Remembrances of their past and revelations about the present threaten their relationships and their future. You might suspect that this is a dense novel – relationships amongst five women equal 25 relationships to illuminate – and you’d be right. So part of the task is telling the whole story fully in as economic a way as possible. Which means I’m in for several passes of revisions.


In these side-by-sides samples, the Original version has blue highlights where I took out the sections that do not appear in the Revised version. The Revised version has the added/new material highlighted all in green.

This revision encompassed three tasks.

  • First, it eliminated unnecessary words. (And, of course, in compiling this post, I’ve noticed more I need to remove, but that’s for another day.)

  • Second, it smuggled in details that were important for the reader to get an accurate view of the scene, and to foreshadow, or at least drop clues to the reader about something the sisters were missing.

  • Third, it stitched in the beginning of my new material, hopefully integrating it with the original material smoothly.

In addition to what is shown here, I had to go through earlier parts of the  manuscript to smuggle in further hints and information so that this section made sense. When I make the next, full-manuscript revision, I will watch out for where my efforts did not work and what kind of fixes they require.

This may be the most difficult kind of re-writing there is. Certainly it holds up a project. But, from past experience, I can tell you it may be the most important kind there is to face down and conquer.

It may be difficult for readers to spot what I mean in these examples. This kind of coaching often works better in an interactive environment. If you have questions about what I’ve done here, or even if you disagree, please feel free to comment and we’ll have a conversation.


TIP ~ INKAS ~ #3

Finally returning to our INKAS.  Poetry is  the next form of writing I want to discuss.


Working with multiple age levels in poetry can be tricky, something I learned early on in the years I coached Writer’s Club. Levels of understanding vary as much as levels of ability. On the other hand, nothing is more refreshing than to hear the original thinking that goes on in a new poet, especially when they are young. And, there is a form of poetry for everyone.

Poetry expresses our innermost thoughts and feelings. Poems can be funny — think Dr. Seuss — or sad. A poem can tell a story, as in a ballad, or it can describe a single internal moment in a person’s soul. Poetry is recited for entertainment and for learning. It can brighten our memories with a description of a grand day at the beach or touch our hearts with tender lines of love. Poetry connects the mind with the heart and the soul.

You will find that there are all kinds of poetry. There are poems that rhyme every other line, and there are poems that rhyme no words at all. There are poems only two lines long – couplets, and there are poems over 70 lines long: ballads.

Rhyming patterns – referred to as schemes – are described by assigning rhyming words the same letter. So, a limerick, where the 1st, 2nd, and 5th lines rhyme and the 3rd and 4th lines rhyme would be described as having a rhyme scheme of ‘aabba’.

APoemSometimes new poets like the idea of writing poetry because it is short – but that is an illusion. It takes thought to put expression into a few words or phrases. A good poem can take as long to write as a long story. But that doesn’t mean you can’t write a poem quickly, especially if you are excited about it.

One thing that young poets don’t always seem to know is how to present a poem visually.

Poetry is usually not written in complete sentences but in phrases.  It is not shaped like a paragraph but takes shape on a screen or paper in such a way that the reader knows went to stop and start and what the rhythm of the poem is. The look of the poem adds to the pleasure and meaning of the poem.

I find it easier to write a poem completely, then look it over and adjust the punctuation, the capitalization, and the lines so that it reads the way I want it to.

I said earlier that there is a form of poetry for everyone. Below is a  not all-encompassing of some of the different forms of poetry. Some you will recognize; some you won’t. You can read more about poetry forms and how to write it, including such details as meter and stanza, imagery and onomatopoeia, at Poetry 101: Learn about Poetry (where you can also find a link to details on US Poet Laureate Billy Collins’s MasterClass).  I’m not posting this info as a promotion, it’s just a fact that you will find the link there.


We write for many reasons, and we choose the form our writing takes based on those reasons. For expressing emotion, discerning truth, and unlocking secrets of the universe, there is nothing so useful as poetry. Happy writing!


TIPS Re-Boot

Along with starting up my blog again, I am revisiting the concept of blogging TIPS for new writers and others who find them useful. Eventually these TIPS will be collected and made available as a separate document.

The writing group I’m in accepts writers of all levels. This can include teenagers who’ve decide they want to be a poet or adults who have decided they have a story to tell to septuagenarians who either wish to leave their sage advice behind or write that racy love story/mystery/ science fantasy they’ve always wanted to write.  Any of the above people can be new to writing, so we often find ourselves starting at the beginning with our advice, or even fundamental explanations.

One time we found it necessary to clear up what constitutes a paragraph. For coaches, parents, or teachers who are trying to get the concept across, here’s a simple explanation of paragraphs.

[note: in fairness to subscribers and readers, this information appeared in a post here in 2018. I’ve re-posted it in its entirety for readers’ convenience.]

3 Basic Rules for Starting New Paragraphs

Okay, so you want to write – a book, a story, an essay – whatever you want to write. But you have ZERO experience.  

You know pages have words on them, and they seem to be broken up into patterns called paragraphs, but how do you know when to do that? Here are the beginning rules. Use them to get started writing your work the way it should be written.

1. Begin a new paragraph whenever you change speakers .

This means, in dialogue, one person says something, then another one says something.

Each time this happens, each time the speaker changes, they get a new paragraph all to themselves, and their spoken words are contained in quote marks (BONUS tip there)

2. Begin a new paragraph whenever you change topic.

You begin your essay by describing the outside of your house. Then you want to move on to describing the inside of it. Make a new paragraph for the inside description. When you want to describe what the back yard looks like, that is another new paragraph.

3. Begin a new paragraph when it feels like one is needed.

This can be for a pause, a change of direction in the action, or just to change theme or thought, much like a change of topic.

You may have spent some time describing how you felt when the ambulance arrived. Then the EMT has you move into the ambulance, and you need to describe how you felt – maybe more physically than emotionally -, and what the inside of the ambulance looked like.

The arrival is one paragraph, the move into the ambulance is a second, and the description of the interior is a third.

Most of all, watch for these things in your reading. As you identify them in what you read, it will be easier for you to remember to use these tips in your writing.