Columns > Published on April 15th, 2014

Edit My Paragraph!

Have you rewritten the first paragraph of your story no less than fifty times? Does it still read like a thesaurus puked it out after having long swallowed your original intentions because, goddamn, first paragraphs have to hook the reader?


Are you struggling with how to convey “acrid pit of decaying flesh” without resorting to adverbs and adjectives?


Do you need better indicators of the deep and abiding love your protagonist feels other than heart rate and palm sweat?


Is it possible that you perhaps have a habit of sometimes using a few too many qualifiers and prepositions and otherwise possibly unnecessary words that can sometimes do things like bloat the text and make it take what seems like forever to get to whatever it is that you might have been trying to say?

Edit My Paragraph is here to help!

Join me in creative adventure as we explore the fine art of editing by taking short samples submitted by you, the readers, and breaking them down, sorting out the trouble spots, and making the prose sparkle! I will post a before and after of your paragraph along with detailed notes about what changes were made and why, and everyone will then be welcome to engage in further discussion.

If you have a paragraph or short passage in need of editing, post up to 300 words of prose in the comments below, together with a brief description of the editing goal and any relevant contextual information, and you may be chosen to have your paragraph edited in the next column!

About the author

Gayle Towell’s stories have won the 2013 Women’s National Book Association writing contest, the 2014 Willamette Writers Kay Snow fiction award, and have been published in Menacing Hedge, Pif Magazine, and the Burnt Tongues anthology among other places. Her novella Blood Gravity was released through Blue Skirt Productions in September 2014. Gayle is the founding editor of Microfiction Monday Magazine and cofounder of Blue Skirt Productions, an artists’ collective. For more information, visit

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