Get To The Point

The first few lines (or paragraphs) of any draft are, generally, pretty rubbish.

You’ve got a rough sense of what you want to say, but you haven’t yet settled into the rhythm of work yet, and so you stumble around your point rather than getting straight to it.

Some writers call this the warm-up. Others call it throat-clearing. Some call it preamble, chatter, fluff.

Whatever you call it, get rid of it.

The warm-up is not the point. It’s only there to get you ready for the real deal; don’t keep it just to have words for the sake of a word count.

If it doesn’t get straight to the heart of your piece, snip snip.

Don’t waste your reader’s attention (even if YOU are your only reader) with blather.

Don’t let them get distracted by words or stories that will orient them in the wrong direction to where you want them.

Clarity is the sign of strong writing, and strong writing happens in the editing.

Scour your work for anything that’s hazy, weak or irrelevant. Draft lavishly, edit ruthlessly. If you particularly love an idea or turn of phrase that’s not right for this piece, cut it out and pop it in a slush file you can return to later.

Nowhere is this more important than at the beginning of a piece. It sets the tone, expectation and focus for everything that follows.

Be bold, and get straight to the point.