Writing tip: Stage 2 of your editing system—headlines, paragraphs

Let's assume you have started editing a large report.

First, you looked at the big picture and ensured the purpose and main message were clear and the structure and size appropriate.

Next, focus on headlines, sub-headlines and paragraphs.

Do whatever is necessary, for example:

  • rewrite headlines so they are explanatory and powerful
  • insert additional sub-headlines
  • delete delete delete paragraphs and sentences to your heart’s content
  • re-arrange the order of paragraphs and create smooth transitions
  • restructure paragraphs.

So far, so good. You've completed the first two stages of editing a document.

In real life, you will zig-zag between the various stages, revisiting issues you thought you had already dealt with. But that's OK: the main thing is to have a system, so that you don't omit any stage or miss some important issue in an attempt to do everything at once.

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