Going back to what the reader needs to know in the introduction

As I get to the last two weeks before submitting my manuscript I am back again to the first chapter. Finding it impossible to write, I decided instead to edit through all the other chapters and get them word-perfect as much as is possible. Doing this quickly enabled me to really check and refine the storyline. 

The places where I stopped to do more work were the transitions – where I came to places where I had to stop and ask ‘what is this doing here, how does it follow from the points I’ve just made?’

I was ruthless here. Anything that that didn’t clearly follow from a previous point was either deleted or I worked hard to make the point. In perhaps two cases I moved whole sections to other chapters where they fitted much better. 

All the way through I was thinking about the reader. What would they think? Where would they get lost? To help them not to get lost I applied the rule that no section should be more than two pages maximum. I also reduced headings to just one layer – no sub-sub headings. Doing this was a very useful exercise in making sure again that everything flowed, renaming many of the headings so that, when I looked at them in the contents list, they actually showed a storyline.

In this whole process I was able to reduce the text by about 1000 words – which is always good.

Then I was able to see exactly what the introduction needed to introduce on a strictly need-to-know basis. So I created a set of headings around which to do this. I then moved all the paragraphs around to go under the new headings. 

I now have the job of editing all the paragraphs of the introduction to flow differently under the new headings. In this process I aim to reduce the words by another 1000.

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