Lesson One: Line Up Your Subjects Original: My Superbowl party is a good time to see my friends, who always bring the snacks and beer. Usually brought by my best friend Fred are the chips. Five huge Tupperware containers, containing chocolate chip cookies, are brought by Alice. Butch, who is always late, typically drags in three cases of the cheapest beer.
Revised: When I have a Superbowl party, my friends help out by bringing snacks and beer. My best friend Fred usually brings the chips. Alice always bakes up a whole mess of chocolate chip cookies, which she carries in five huge Tupperware containers. Always late, Butch drags in three cases of the cheapest icy cold beer he can find.
Revise this passage, lining up the subjects. First determine the characters. Start each sentence with a character, and then let the sentence take you where it wants to go. Original: Vegetation covers the earth, except for those areas continuously covered with ice or utterly scorched by continual heat. Richly fertilized plains and river valleys are places where plants grow most richly, but also at the edge of perpetual snow in high mountains. The ocean and its edges as well as in and around lakes and swamps are densely vegetated. The cracks of busy sidewalks have plants in them as well as in seemingly barren cliffs. Before humans existed, the earth was covered with vegetation, and the earth will have vegetation long after evolutionary history swallows us up.
Lesson Two: Old to New Sometimes, you can’t line up the subjects of paragraphs. Another way of improving flow is to use the old/new method. In other words, ensure that something old (known) is given at the first part of the sentence. This information usually comes from the sentence before. New information should appear after the old.
Revise this passage to improve its old-new flow. Don’t forget our sentence lessons from yesterday! Sentences are clearly when the character is the subject performing the action. Also, don’t forget lining up subjects. When you regularly get the characters up front, you also get familiar information.
Original: Two aims—the recovery of the American economy and the modernization of America into a military power—were in the president’s mind when he assumed his office. The drop of unemployment figures and inflation, and the increase in the GNP testifies to his success in the first. But our increased involvement in international conflict without any clear set of political goals indicates less success with the second. Nevertheless, increases in the military budget and a good deal of saber rattling pleased the American voter. Revised: