Part 1: Six Basic Steps


Analyze Readers
Organize Top-Down
Verify and Revise

Part 1 describes Six Basic Steps for writing. They don't cover every aspect of writing. But after you have mastered them, you should have a clear, strategic sense of the writing process as a whole. You can fill in the details and the subtleties later as you use these steps in your work.

The format for each step is the same. Each begins with the goal for that step and the rationale behind that goal. To make the goal concrete, we next describe a product, a concrete thing you actually produce. While that product is intermediary for most steps and not part of the actual document you are working on, the thinking that goes into each is essential. The product is followed by step-by-step instructions for producing it. Each step ends with a comment that gives additional details.

If you try to read the book through, you will probably find this uniform format annoyingly repetitious. Instead, use the book as you work on a writing task you need to complete during the next week. Work through a step or two at a time, applying the techniques to your project. Later, when you go back to the book for reference, the consistent format will help you find the information you're looking for quickly and easily.

We've tried to make these steps as simple as possible. However, don't be deceived. Learning to think, and write, simply and clearly is not easy. It takes practice and it takes effort. Plan on using the methods described in this book on several projects over the next few weeks. At first they will slow you down. When time pressures make it impossible to apply all of them to a task, use one or two. As they become familiar, they will become reflexive. That's when you will really start realizing their benefits.

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