by Aaron Sinkovich
Sarah walked into the cramped, professor’s office. She wanted a decent grade, but he had underlined sentences, written “awkward” and “wordy” beside many.
“So you've spent some time editing?”
“Not really,” she said. “I need help.”
“Try to do what we talked about in class.”
“Okay,” she said, but pointed to a sentence, lots of red ink. “What about this, though?”
“I’d delete these,” he said, crossing out some words. “Then turn this word into a verb. And these you don't need.” He crossed out a few more. “It's redundant. I'd get rid of this.”
“Oh,” she said. “That sounds much better." She pointed to another sentence. “What’s your opinion on that one?”
“Start with the verbs, again. Choose one. Like here.” Sarah leaned closer, feigning interest. His pen zipped through a few more words. “That’s better.”
“Yeah, you’re right.”
She had his pen going now. She prodded him along, led him with more questions. And sure enough, her writing improved.
“I hope this helps,” he said.
“I couldn’t have done it without you.”
Sarah beamed, looking at her revised paper. She didn’t spend a lot of time writing, but her style more than made up for it.
Aaron Sinkovich teaches American literature at a small high school in Northeastern Pennsylvania. He holds an M.A. in English from The Ohio State University and a B.S.E. from Mansfield University, where he spent two years as editor of the university’s literary magazine. His current project is a collection of stories about rural Pennsylvania. Contact Aaron.