Monday, March 26, 2007

weekly writing coach: don't start at the top

In our coaching, we encounter scores of writers who get caught up in writing the lead paragraph. They stew and fret and revise that initial graph until they deem it perfect, and use most of their time on that first impression. Our counsel: Don't start at the beginning. Instead, try this method:

- create one document with every fact or point you anticipate making, leaving one line per point;
- rearrange that draft so that all like topics group together;
- organize those topical groups of facts in the order you plan to present them, to create a functional outline.

At this point, still minus that shiny first paragraph, you have a working draft. Now edit the content, creating sharp sentences and organized paragraphs. Add transitions between them, and then write the first and last paragraphs, to build the strongest lead and conclusion based on the content. In our experience, you'll spend less time and get better results.

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