The Teacher Tip

Helping Writers Make Good Choices

October 10, 2017

Adapted from Teaching Nonfiction Revision by Sneed B. Collard and Vicki Spandel. 

To cut or not to cut needs to be the writer’s decision. Your questions, however, can nudge her toward a good choice: “Does this third paragraph support your message? Let me read it aloud so you can focus on your purpose as you listen . . .” A writer may understandably resist any suggestion framed as an edict: “This part needs to go!” But most writers respond positively to questions that frame alternatives: “If you ended the piece right here—and cut the final paragraph entirely—you would close by describing the consequences of not opening the new dog park instead of adding general comments on the pros and cons. Which ending strikes you as more powerful?”

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