Monday, March 28, 2011

Stick to your point

Try to stick to your point throughout whatever you are writing: article, essay, short story, or other organized piece of writing.

It’s very easy to drift away from your point as you write. So, as you edit your work, check to see whether you did in fact stick to your point when you were writing.

Here’s an example of a writer who drifted away from his point while writing and failed to catch himself during the edit. It’s a 1355-word article about the statements of the Japanese government after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

At the beginning of the article, the author writes:

“All governments lie all the time. It is the nature of government to do so.”

In other words, you should never believe anything that any government says.

In the middle of the article, the author writes:

“…it [the behavior of the Japanese government] is also teaching us to have a healthy skepticism of the state and its proclamations.

In other words, when employees of the Japanese government speak you should watch for occasional misstatements.

At the end of the article, the author writes:

“…you must gather all the available information you can – remembering that there are those who have certain motivations for what they pronounce – and judge what’s best for yourself by yourself.”

In other words, you should assume that some (not all) government employees will allow bias to affect what they say.

Summary: The author begins by saying that it is the nature of governments in general (and therefore the Japanese government in particular) to lie continuously. He ends by saying that the pronouncements of the Japanese government are generally true but you must be on the lookout for an occasional honest error or an occasional instance of personal bias. This is a very wide range of opinion, within which the reader is left to guess where the author’s opinion lies.

The Takeaway: When you stick to your point, your writing is more persuasive. As you write, always try to stick to your point. As you edit, check to see whether you did in fact stick to your point.

See disclaimer.

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