So you wrote your first draft of an article or a blog!
In school I remember having to submit multiple versions of the same five paragraph essay. No one ever explained the point of writing a draft. I just knew that I could make terrible mistakes in the first draft and no one cared.
As I’ve advanced as a writer, I’ve started to love revising my pieces. First drafts are like the first coat of paint. You miss spots and don’t smooth out the edges. You should never stop at the first coat. You have to go over your work several times to make it presentable.
When I’m trying to shape a second draft, there are a few questions I ask:
1. What is this piece’s unique contribution?
You don’t want to create something that already exists. Make sure your piece has a unique angle. You can use your own personality, find interesting details or offer a new perspective on an old issue. The piece should do something no one has seen before.
2.To whom are you writing this?
If you write a piece for everyone, you’re writing a piece for no one. That’s why so many articles online have almost no personality. The writers don’t target an audience. Pick someone you would like the piece to reach: a friend, a family member, or a younger version of yourself. What previous knowledge does your audience have and what do you need to explain? How does your tone change depending on the person you are addressing?
3. If a reader was to get one thing out of this article, what would that be?
A common mistake in pieces is not staying true to a theme. We all read so much in a day that picking a single theme can often make the piece memorable. It’s not about you. You’re not writing for your own entertainment; you’re writing to engage your audience.
4. How well do your paragraphs support the theme?
When I write, I usually find that one paragraph in the article that is completely useless. Find that paragraph and cut it. You rarely need to go on a tangent unless it supports your voice in the story.
5. If you had to cut 10% of it, what would you cut?
Most people try to keep too much in a piece. Think of your piece like a suitcase. Do you really want your reader to carry that much bulk around? Cut everything that can be lost without changing the message. Don’t repeat yourself and don’t overcomplicate the language.
6. What are your favorite lines in the piece?
One of two things can be the result of your favorite lines. Ideally, they add emotional impact for you and your reader. However, they can also become close personal friends of yours that get in the way of your message in the article. My friend Lindsey talks about how her favorite lines always get cut out of her pieces. I keep a “graveyard” document of great lines I’ve had to cut out of my work.