I found another writing trick this week. This one helps me make sure my story flows in a logical order, and that it addresses all the important points.
Editing our own work is hard. We all gloss over sentences when we already know what we meant them to say. We know how we got from one paragraph to the next, and it’s easy to forget to bring the reader along.
This week as I was editing Susan’s story about evolutionary pressures on islands, I took note of where the article left me, the reader, at the end of each paragraph. Then, if I had a question, or wanted to know more about something she mentioned, I wrote it down.
So what’s the trick? Sometime as I’m writing a first draft, it helps to start each new graf with a question. I read the previous graf and ask myself what I’m left wondering about. Then I write it down.
Having the question on the screen in front of my face makes me focus the graf on answering that question, which forces me to stick to one topic per graf. It also prevents me from leaping into a totally new topic with no transition. If it’s appropriate to the format I’m writing for, I might even leave the question in the final version.
This definitely doesn’t work all the time. But sometimes is better than no times, I think.