Have students imagine that they are copy editors for a popular magazine. The editor-in-chief has asked them to revise the paragraph below, cutting any unnecessary text and adding brush strokes.
The famous escape artist was hanging upside down above a parking lot in a straight jacket. He was suspended from a crane. His name was "Gessi the Great." He twisted and twirled in the wind as a crowd watched silently. The crowd was large with about fifty onlookers. Finally, Gessi wiggled out of the jacket and tossed it aside. He was lowered to the ground by the crane operator and greeted by cheers.
This should give students a feel for revising with brush strokes and generate paragraphs that resemble this:
Hanging upside down above the parking lot, suspended from a crane, "Gessi the Great," the famous escape artist, twisted and twirled in the wind. Below, a crowd of about fifty onlookers watched silently. Finally, Gessi wiggled out of the jacket and tossed it aside. The crowd erupted in cheers as the crane operator lowered him to the ground.
As a follow-up have students do a similar revision on a piece of their own writing.