A simple, yet important tip to sharpen your writing

Strong leads, inverted pyramids, and AP style are essential in media writing class, but one of the most important tips is also an often-overlooked lesson.

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It’s something we should all remember, because it makes our writing clearer, sharper, and more interesting.

Let’s face it, first drafts usually stink, especially when you’re a beginner. This always seems to be an eye-opener for students, yet it’s an important lesson. Turning in a rough draft gets you (at best) a “C” in my course. It doesn’t fly when you’re in the working world, either.

One of my mentors taught me early in my career to read and revise your work at least four times, and it’s a method I teach my students today:

First, read your piece from beginning to end to check for organization and clarity. Does everything make sense? Are you skipping around too much? Perhaps you need some transitions to flag you’re moving from one idea to another. Make these major fixes first.

Next, read your story paragraph by paragraph. Are you too wordy? Is there a simpler way to convey your thoughts? Start line editing, challenging every sentence.

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