Forward, he cried
From the rear
And the front ranks died.
– Pink Floyd (Us and Them)
We can tell a whole world in a sentence. The rewrite is where we polish our prose until it gleams. We remove all that does not belong in order to experience what remains. In the rewrite, we ask ourselves, “Is this word or sentence necessary?” A single word can kill a sentence, can cloud its meaning, and halt the rhythm.
Ernest Hemingway is often credited with writing a six-word short story. It has a beginning, middle, and end. It tells us all we need to know and our imagination fills in the rest. Here it is: “For Sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.”