Create successful ePaper yourself

Turn your PDF publications into a flip-book with our unique Google optimized e-Paper software.

Bits & Pieces 87<br />

which sick people were shunned, though he had never heard<br />

of any such ritual in America. [Sentence starts slowly and<br />

stays sluggish and dull. Break it into shorter units. Snap off<br />

the ir<strong>on</strong>ic point. ]<br />

He remembered that neighbors used to take care of <strong>on</strong>e<br />

another. But that no l<strong>on</strong>ger seemed to happen in America.<br />

Was it because every<strong>on</strong>e was so busy? Were people really so<br />

preoccupied with their televisi<strong>on</strong> sets and their cars and their<br />

fitness programs that they had no time for friendship? In previous<br />

eras that was never true. Nor was it how families lived<br />

in other parts of the world. Even in the poorest villages of<br />

Spain and Italy, he recalled, people would drop in with a loaf<br />

of bread. An ir<strong>on</strong>ic idea struck him: as people got richer they<br />

cut themselves off from the richness of life. But what really<br />

troubled him was an even more shocking fact. The time when<br />

his friends deserted him was the time when he needed them<br />

most. By getting sick he almost seemed to have d<strong>on</strong>e something<br />

shameful. He knew that other societies had a custom of<br />

"shunning" people who were very ill. But that ritual <strong>on</strong>ly<br />

existed in primitive cultures. Or did it?<br />

My revisi<strong>on</strong>s aren't the best <strong>on</strong>es that could be made, or the<br />

<strong>on</strong>ly <strong>on</strong>es. They're mainly matters of carpentry: altering the<br />

sequence, tightening the flow, sharpening the point. Much<br />

could still be d<strong>on</strong>e in such areas as cadence, detail and freshness<br />

of language. Bey<strong>on</strong>d these repairs, which <strong>on</strong>ly apply to individual<br />

sentences; the total c<strong>on</strong>structi<strong>on</strong> is equally important. Read<br />

your article aloud from beginning to end, always remembering<br />

where you left the reader in the previous sentence. You might<br />

find you had written two sentences like this:<br />

The tragic hero of the play is Othello. Small and malevolent,<br />

Iago feeds his jealous suspici<strong>on</strong>s.

Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully!

Ooh no, something went wrong!