Cut Off Their Heads

Look at your writing and examine the first few paragraphs. Can you delete them? Will the article still stand if you dump the first and second paragraphs?

If you're writing a book, look at the first chapter. Can you drop it? Can the book stand without it?

Bruce Barton, author of the 1925 bestseller The Man Nobody Knows, once said writers start writing something before they start saying something.

In a short article, those first few paragraphs are suspect. Consider deleting them. In a longer work, like a book, that first chapter can probably be deleted. Why? As Barton suggested, those early lines are "warm-ups." You probably don't really need them.

As a book reviewer I used to see a lot of self-published books. These writers almost always could have deleted their first chapters. They were just too much in love with their own words to cut them out.

As a magazine journalist, I have worked hard to create opening paragraphs that were "grabbers." Yet all too often the editors deleted my lead. Nobody ever complained!

Look at your opening paragraphs. Can you drop them? I am not saying you must slice them out. I am suggesting you examine that area, as it is a place where you can trim your writing.

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