Organize

Organize your information so that your readers can understand it, and also so they can’t misunderstand it. You know your content thoroughly, but this is the first time your readers are experiencing it. Think of them as you choose how to organize your content.

1. Outline your content. Each idea gets its own paragraph. Use a Roman numeral to state the main idea. Use arabic numbers to add details and support. Each new idea gets a new Roman numeral plus arabic numbers to match the supporting details.  I choose not to use letters in my outlines so that I don’t confuse letters with the words in the outline.

2. If you are telling a story, organize the events in chronological order first. Then you can choose how to order them. If you are calling your readers to action, state your weakest arguments first so you can save your strongest argument for the ending. People remember what they read last.

3. Compare each piece of your outline with your focus statement. Does each piece relate closely enough? Is there any repetition? Is it possible to combine ideas? What’s the most logical order for you to use?

4. If word count matters, plan 100 to 125 words per outline. To write 600 to 900 words, create 5 to 8 outlines. If you find you have 10 outlines, cut content and combine ideas. Doing this at the outline stage allows you to plan ahead. Planning now reduces writing time later.