Writing Tip Wednesday #17: My Favorite Editing Trick

So I figure it’s about time I share my favorite editing trick. I picked it up in college, but I can’t remember where—perhaps in the sidebar of a text book I haven’t looked at in a few years, or maybe my professor shared it during a lecture in my editing seminar. But it doesn’t really matter, does it? What matters is that I promised you an editing trick and I should probably get to the point . .

When you get stuck with a piece’s structure or organization, you can’t quite figure out what information you need and what you don’t, or you need to find the holes in your writing, try deconstructing your document. Put a line break after each sentence (or paragraph, depending on what you’re struggling with), print it, and cut it into strips.

Editing Structure Duo

This frees you up to reorganize, cut text, and reorganize again until the cows come home. Or until you figure out what to do with your piece. I usually tape all the strips together and reorganize my document file accordingly.

It’s like magic. It always works for me. Maybe because it goes back to the basics and gets me away from the computer screen . . . Next time you’re stuck, try it!