How To Perform a Structural Edit If You Write a Frankenstein

Sometimes I write a Frankenstein piece.

It looks fine until I notice that arms sprout where the legs should be – and unfortunately I forgot to attach a neck.

I don’t always notice that straight away. Why? Because when I finish writing a piece, I’m in love with it. I adore it. It’s great. No, not just great: it’s brilliant!

…Until the next day…

Next day I’m shocked to see that my piece needs intense reconstruction. What happened? Overnight I took off my writer’s wings and donned the editor’s white coat and stethoscope.

Let’s say that you are ready to do the same. What now?

Those of you who can wave a First Aid certificate will know. First you do triage. Find out whether it’s a case of CPR or whether a plaster will do. Is it an oh-gawd-this-just-doesn’t-hang-together-at-all piece? Or is it a well-this-will-only-need-a-tweak piece?

In the following I’ll focus on how to get a piece to hang together. It’s about structural editing, or, how to reverse engineer a piece. Structural editing makes sure that all the bones of a piece are in the right place.

How to Perform a Structural Edit to Rescue a Piece

1. Reassemble the Bones

  • Write down each point of your article in its shortest form.
  • Re-arrange the points into headings and subheadings.
  • Add missing points.
  • Cut and paste each part of the old article into the new structure.
  • Add or delete sentences to make transitions.

2. Check Your Transitions

Once you’ve got your bones right, check for smooth transitions. The reader wants to be led from one idea to the next – without any jolts. I find that transitions sometimes happen in my mind but don’t land on the page. Maybe it’s perfectly clear to me how I got from cucumbers to cataracts – but my readers might need a pathway from one to the other.

3. Make a bold entry

Before you settle on an a beginning, ask yourself if it provokes sufficient curiosity in the reader. – Leo Stein

Take a look at the start of your piece. There are two questions you need to pose:

  • Does it grab your readers?
  • Does it introduce your theme?

Sweep in, don’t creep in! Make sure that you jump right in with your first sentence.

 

4.  End on a high note

Check out your ending.

  • Do you fizzle out?
  • Do you cut off in mid-stream?
  • Do you wrap up your theme?

It’s important to wrap up your piece and hand it to your readers at the end. Don’t just throw it at them and walk away!

When you look at these four points, you’ll understand that a structural edit can rescue a bad piece, as well as enhance a good one.

There are two strategies you can use to improve the structure of your writing. The first one is to plan your piece before you write it.  And the second one is to analyze articles by other authors with the eyes of a structural editor.

Ask: is it a Frankenstein, or does it skip, dance, and sing?

I’d love to know whether you too have ever written a Frankenstein. Where you able to rescue it? If so, how?

 

RECENT POSTS

How to Build a Summer Writing Routine in 4 Simple Steps

When the weather turns warmer and the days get longer, many of us start to daydream about the possibility of making serious progress on our writing projects. Whether you have some time away from work or study, or simply make use of the extra daylight to extend your...

Is It Too Late to Start Writing?

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to be a writer but haven’t made it happen yet.  There are so many reasons why you might not have made the leap from aspiring to write to actually starting to do it yet. Maybe you doubt whether you’re good enough. Maybe writing has...

Why Is Writing So Hard? (And What to Do About It)

Do you ever find yourself asking why is writing so hard? When people picture the working process of a writer, they often picture a carefree, fun, and creative situation.  Perhaps that's how you imagined being a writer would be. Often, our earliest experiences...

Rising Action in a Story (Or, Why Your WIP Might Suck)

Have you ever told somebody that you started a book but you just couldn't get into it? Have you ever picked up a book and struggled through the first page, the first chapter, even the first half, only to stop reading entirely? You may even have a bookshelf dedicated...

JOIN OVER 2 MILLION READERS

WANT YOUR NEXT BOOK TO BE A BESTSELLER?

Then you need KDP Rocket – the killer advantage of pro authors.

Related Posts

Persuasive Writing Techniques: A Step-By-Step Approach

Persuasive Writing Techniques: A Step-By-Step Approach

If you're a writer, you need to be able to use persuasive writing techniques. After all, you want people to read what you write. And maybe you want them to buy your book or article. There's more than one way to win an argument. Ancient Greek philosopher and polymath...

About The Author

Mary Jaksch

Mary Jaksch is best known for her exceptional training for writers at WritetoDone.com and for her cutting-edge book, Youthful Aging Secrets. In her “spare” time, Mary is also the brains behind GoodlifeZEN.com, a Zen Master, a mother, and a 5th Degree Black Belt.

Latest Posts

Is It Too Late to Start Writing?

Is It Too Late to Start Writing?

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to be a writer but haven’t made it happen yet.  There are so many reasons why you might not have made the leap from aspiring to write to actually starting to do it yet. Maybe you doubt whether you’re good enough. Maybe writing has...

Why Is Writing So Hard? (And What to Do About It)

Why Is Writing So Hard? (And What to Do About It)

Do you ever find yourself asking why is writing so hard? When people picture the working process of a writer, they often picture a carefree, fun, and creative situation.  Perhaps that's how you imagined being a writer would be. Often, our earliest experiences...

What Is the Climax of a Story?

What Is the Climax of a Story?

Have you ever noticed that once you get about three-quarters into a book, you have to finish it?  That’s because you’ve likely run into the climax. And when the climax of a book is good, it becomes impossible to put down. Learning to write a compelling climax...

28 Figure Of Speech Examples

28 Figure Of Speech Examples

Storytelling is a different kind of writing. Often, voice trumps grammar. Of course, your writing needs to be easily understood by the reader, but it’s crucial that the voice of your writing is strong.  Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, both genres employ...

How to Get Ideas for Writing (15 Simple Tips)

How to Get Ideas for Writing (15 Simple Tips)

Do you want to learn how to find topics to write about? Do you ever sit down to write a blog post, article or chapter,  and nothing, but nothing appears in your mind? This is the dreaded writer's block. The good news is that if you use the following 15 tips, you...

>