An Editor at Work

Here’s a sentence from one of Charlie’s columns that we decided to revise:

A separate category of plants are what might best be described as stealth vines.

I like strong, punchy sentences. For example, I wouldn’t write “The shrub is spectacular.” I would write “The spectacular shrub”…and then finish the sentence:  “delights visitors to our home.”

Here’s our first attempt to strengthen his sentence:

A separate category of plants comprises what might best be described as stealth vines. BETTER

Now the sentence is more active. But our revision still wasn’t punchy enough for me. Comprise isn’t a lively word. Here’s our next revision.

A separate category of plants might best be described as stealth vines.  EVEN BETTER

I like it! But it’s passive voice (“might best be described”). Let’s make it active voice:

There’s another category of plants you might describe as stealth vines.  BEST

You might be wondering what a “stealth vine” is. It’s a shrub that turns into a vine if there’s something nearby to climb. Ganges primrose, plumbago, and yellow allamanda are sometimes called “stealth vines.” That term is another example of good writing – using an intriguing word (“stealth”) to make your subject (vines) more interesting!

                                                                           Photo courtesy of Calvin Teo

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