Tag Archives: sentence

Five Steps to Completing Your First Draft

Five Steps to Completing Your First Draft

Daily Writing Tips

Follow these stages of preparation and production to assemble a first draft of written (or spoken) content.

  1. Identify Your Purpose
    What is the reason for writing the content? Are you objectively presenting information? If so, is it for educational purposes, or for entertainment — or both? Are you writing to help someone make a decision, or encouraging someone to take action?

Identifying your goal for the content will help you shape the piece.

  1. Identify Your Readership
    Who are your intended readers (and your unintended ones)? What is their level of literacy, and what is their degree of prior knowledge of the topic?

Imagining who your readers are will help you decide what voice and tone to adopt, how formal or informal your language will be — though that factor also depends on your approach (see below) — and how much detail or background information you provide.

  1. Identify Your Approach
    Should your content be authoritative, or is it the work of someone informally communicating with peers? Are you offering friendly advice, or is your tone cautionary? Are you selling something, or are you skeptical? Should the content be serious, or is some levity appropriate?

Determining your strategy, in combination with identifying your readership, will help you decide how the piece will feel to the reader.

  1. Identify Your Ideas
    Brainstorm before and during the drafting process, and again when you revise. If appropriate, talk or write to intended readers about what they hope to learn from the content. Imagine that you are an expert on the topic, and pretend that you are being interviewed about it. Write down the questions and your answers to help you structure the content. Alternatively, present a mock speech or lecture on the topic and transcribe your talk.

Draft an executive summary or an abstract of the content, or think about how you would describe it to someone in a few sentences. Or draw a diagram or a map of the content.

Using one or more of these strategies will help you populate your content with the information your readers want or need.

  1. Identify Your Structure
    Craft a title that clearly summarizes the topic in a few words. Explain the main idea in the first paragraph. Organize the content by one of several schemes: chronology or sequence, relative importance, or differing viewpoints. Use section headings or transitional language to signal new subtopics. Integrate sidebars, graphics, and/or links as appropriate.

Incorporating these building blocks will help you produce a coherent, well-organized piece.

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The Delayed Subject with There

by Maeve Maddox
From Daily Writing Tips

In conversation we’d probably find ourselves tongue-tied if we couldn’t begin sentences with the grammatical subject there:
There are only three eggs left in the refrigerator.
There’s a lot of traffic on the freeway this morning.
In each example there begins the sentence, but the true subjects– eggs and a lot of traffic –are delayed until after the verb.

There is nothing grammatically wrong with this construction. Did you notice that I just wrote a sentence beginning with “There is”? Simply placing the true subject first would create Yoda-speak:
Nothing grammatically wrong with this construction is.
Rewriting an expletive sentence (the kind that begins with a subject place-holder like “There”) requires a little more effort than simple reversal. That’s probably why we let so many of them creep into our first drafts.

Compare the following:
There is research that shows that phonics is the most important component of beginning reading.
Research shows that phonics is the most important component of beginning reading.
Not only is the delayed subject pattern wordy, but it can also lead to a lack of subject-verb agreement. Here are some examples from websites offering professional services:
There’s good reasons EmCare is the industry leader
There’s areas of freezing drizzle/mist out there this afternoon.
There’s schooling costs, there’s health costs and they’ll continue to be provided out of the centres for those who are being temporarily resettled…(This was a government minister.)
Informal conversation is one thing, but writing for a professional purpose is something else again. If the “There is” opener is the preferred stylistic choice, then the delayed subject should agree with the verb that precedes it:

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