University of Iowa

Revising Sentences for Impact

Weekend June 15 to June 16 2019

Most writers want to write sentences that are clear and that communicate their intended meaning well. Certainly editors are looking for that! Much of a writer’s creativity lies in his or her talent for choosing words imaginatively. But much of your style also depends on some technicalities about what kind of word forms you choose and where you put them in your sentences. This workshop will focus primarily on those technicalities—not so much choosing the right words, but choosing the right word forms and putting them in your sentences where you get the most “bang for your buck,” so to speak. This means placing the most important words in the most powerful positions in the sentence, weeding out weak function words, emphasizing active verbs, and so forth. This is mostly part of the revising and editing process more than the drafting process. We’ll be looking at how to chip away the extraneous material to reveal the beautiful, shining sentence that packs a punch. (Just to be clear—we will be talking about revision at the sentence level; we won’t be addressing overall organization.) Participants don’t need to be grammar experts, but a basic understanding of a sentence’s subject-verb-object structure will be helpful. Most of the workshop time will be spent working through sentences. We’ll do a lot of exercises I bring in but also work on sentences our class members will generate during our time together. While it is not required, participants are welcome to bring writing they have already written that we can work on together as a class.


In this workshop we will generate new writing through guided exercises and prompts; provide feedback on writing you bring from home or produce in our weekend.  

Short Story