Four Ways to Eliminate the Logic Gaps in Your Writing
It’s weird how long it takes me to recognize my little jumps in logic. I’m hoping that my work on this book is going to have the added benefit of making me a better thinker in general. -“J”, a first-time author
I’m currently doing a developmental edit on a new author’s first nonfiction book. His note to me above captures a crucial “aha” moment many of us experience in the writing process, where we start seeing the gaps between what we want to say and what is actually on the page. The main reason for these “jumps in logic” is that as we write, we unknowingly apply context clues, prior knowledge, and any other relevant data from our subconscious to the topic at hand—data the reader may not have. So, when someone reads what we’ve written, without the benefit of all of that contextual information we applied when writing it, they often encounter gaps in our thinking. Missing bits of information that then fail to convey a complete thought.
One of the comments I write most often in the margins of manuscripts I’m editing is, “Unclear, confusing. You’ll need to connect the dots here for the reader.” The key words being “for the reader” - because, ultimately, that’s who we’re communicating to when we write. Believe it or not, our books are not internal dialogues. We have journals for that! Our work as writers involves expressing our thoughts clearly to the reader with as few gaps in logic as possible.
The good news is there are ways to make sure your writing is clear and concise. Below are some tried-and-true tips for keeping your writing free of those annoying little gaps in logic.
Reread and Revise. Start each new writing session by rereading what you’ve written in the previous session, making tweaks and changes as you do. With the advantage of a fresh perspective and some time and distance, you’ll be surprised at you how many gaps you can recognize and then fill in.
Read Aloud. Another great way to catch the gaps (as well as awkward sentences, missing words, bad grammar, and lots of other writing mistakes) is to read what you’ve written out loud. And this is key: DON’T CORRECT YOUR MISTAKES ORALLY as you read, fix them on the page. No matter how tedious this process feels, I promise you, your writing will be clearer and more concise for it.
Enlist an Early Beta Reader. Don’t wait until your book is finished to get it in front of another pair of eyes. Preferably not your mom’s or your spouse’s eyes—the more objective, the better. Do you know an English teacher or a fellow writer who’d be open to reading your chapters periodically? A thoughtful outside reader can be invaluable at spotting the places you need to “connect the dots” in your writing.
Hire an Editor. Most writers, whether newbies or veterans, understand the value an objective professional brings to their writing. Before I submitted my second book to a traditional publisher, I hired an editor to do a rigorous developmental edit on the manuscript. She shaped, trimmed, fine-tuned, and helped bring into sharper focus a book I’d already rewritten several dozen times. Her input and insight were invaluable, and like my client in the note above, I found myself a better writer and thinker after going through that process.
You invest so much in your book—time, money, resources, not to mention your heart—you'll want to do everything you can to make sure your writing says exactly what you want it to say. Implementing these four practices will help lessen the gaps in your writing and ensure you and the reader are indeed on the same page.