How to coach new writers

Edit #1: The head

  • Write for one person
  • Name that person
  • Write your main point, or thesis statement in one sentence and put it in the header of your doc. Refer back to it frequently.

Edit #2: The spine

  • It’s important to get a good title in place at this stage. Write 10 versions of your title and settle on the best one
  • Every H1 needs to clearly map back to the promise in your title
  • Write an intro that connects your title to your H1s

Edit #3: Kill your darlings

  • Cut anything that doesn’t support the title or H1s (if it’s a lot, turn it into its own article!)
  • Find lists and turn them into bulleted or numbered lists
  • Break up long paragraphs
  • Point out opportunities to create graphics

Edit #4: Create your “power statements”

  • This article starts with a power statement. The writer isn’t trying to convince you. Either agree and keep reading, or disagree and move on with your day.
  • This article includes power statements sprinkled throughout. They wake you up. This isn’t just a nice article about women working together, the author uses power statements to call you to act.
  • This article closes with power statements to make absolutely sure you didn’t miss the point.
  • Look for strong points buried in fuzzy language. Phrases like “in other words” or “meaning” often indicate that an author feels strongly about a point but is struggling to capture it concisely.
  • Check your transitions — opening and closing statements of each section — write them as clearly as you can.
  • Use active vs. passive language
  • Consider writing your H1s to be power statements
  • Pour your copy editing time into making those “can’t miss” statements as strong and memorable as possible.
  • Make sure the conclusion goes out on a high note
  • This is also the time to do a general copy edit

What else?

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Janessa Lantz

Janessa Lantz

Building the marketing team at dbt Labs