I have struggled over the past few years with honing my revision skills. I don’t have that much text to work with, and one of my problems is that I’m too close to it. I get some practice with folks whose work I read to critique, but it’s kind of rude to dig in and do line edits and change stuff around.
I did hit on a fun way to get some practice, though: go back and edit old stories that are in the public domain! A lot of them do suffer from some of the problems that I need to work on, too. Wordiness, some “as you know, Bob” and stilted dialogue, pacing issues, etc.
It has occurred to me that it might be fun to use this as a way to see how other people edit, to get a sense of differences in style and just generally see how other people might monkey with a classic. So I’m inviting anyone who reads this to give this a try: Grab a copy of the first chapter of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet (published 1887, and I believe is public domain everywhere) and edit it. I’ve linked the .doc file, but can provide a .rtf if you want, or you can download from Project Gutenberg.
I’ll be posting my own results here in a week or so, along with my comments, and would be delighted to either host files or link to anyone else who cares to participate. (PDF would probably be best for the final version, or post the text directly on your blog, but it might be interesting to see a Word document with Track Changes on!)