Saturday, October 08, 2005

Content is Everything—Part 2

Saturday Writer: Content Editing Checklists

The purpose of content editing is to challenge the draft. You’ve gotten the ideas onto the paper. A pause for a content edit sets expression aside to make sure you’re working with a solid structure. It makes sense to take the time to challenge the work before you revise it. Why not make sure that you have fulfilled the promise that comes with the genre you’ve chosen?

Most people define genre as category but for a writer, it’s the purpose for writing. You write a how-to piece when you teach someone something. You write persuasively, if you’re trying to convince someone. It’s helpful to check your work early to be sure you have not left anything wanting. For that purpose, I offer you these copyediting checklists.

Personal Narrative Content Editor’s Checklist
  1. Does the introduction make the reader want to continue?

  2. Are the events clear and in chronological order?

  3. Does the body stay to the core of the story, using only rich and relevant details for support?

  4. Does the writer use exact words that portray the experience in a way the reader can understand it?

  5. Does the conclusion tie the story together, leaving the reader glad to have read it?

How-To Article Content Editor’s Checklist
  1. Is the purpose clear?

  2. Does the introduction clearly identify what the work will teach?

  3. Are the instructions detailed and complete?

  4. Are the steps presented in the order they will be completed?

  5. Does the conclusion give the reader a reason to try it and maybe a hint of additional benefits?

Description Content Editor’s Checklist
  1. Does the introduction capture the reader’s attention?

  2. Does the work show a sharp, distinct focus?

  3. Does it have a logical order for organization?

  4. Does the work use precise words, sensory details, and literary devices to help the reader form mental images?

  5. Does the conclusion leave the reader with a lasting picture?

    Persuasive Writing Content Editor’s Checklist
    1. Does the topic have two distinct and opposing arguments?
    2. Does the introduction include a positioning statement telling the reader what the writer believes?

    3. Does the work use both emotion and logic to support the viewpoint?

    4. Does the work back its argument with logical evidence?

    5. Does the conclusion summarize the position and call readers to act on it?

      Informational Writing Content Editor’s Checklist
      1. Does the work have a clear focus on one topic?

      2. Does the introduction grab the reader’s interest with a clear thesis statment?

      3. Does the work follow a clear plan from beginning to end?

      4. Does the body of the work present logically-ordered paragraphs of main ideas with relevant, supporting details?

      5. Does the conclusion leave readers feeling satisfied, feeling a sense of conclusion now that they have reached the end?

      There they are as promised, a few checklists to review as you content edit. Use them. Then you can get on to revising—back to the writing—confident that your reader won’t get lost looking for the forest there among the trees.

      —me strauss Letting me be


      garnet david said...

      I'm printing this out to keep by my computer. This is exactaly the structural review I want to have in mind before I write posts. How'd you know??

      ME Strauss said...

      Hey Garnet,
      You make me smile.
      You probably sent me one of your infamous middle of the night emails.


      Janus said...

      helpful but intimidating (for me...not everyone), some days I look at all the stuff I do wrong and wonder if I was not better suited for another hobby.

      I shall print this off too =)

      ME Strauss said...

      Hey there,
      You ever feel that way, you just send it to me. I'm here to help whenever you need it.