Introduction: General Principles of Writing and Editing

AuthorEdwin Scott Fruehwald
ProfessionLaw Professor at the University of Alabama
The best way to become a self-directed learner is to develop attitudes and
habits.1 The rst attitude I want you to develop is “I will become a reader-
oriented writer. Most authors write for themselves, and they do not give
much thought to their readers. As a result, the reader often misunderstands
what the author has said. In contrast, successful writers focus on their read-
ers. They know that it is the writer’s responsibility to fully communicate
his ideas to his reader. A reader shouldn’t have to read a passage twice. The
second attitude I want you to possess is “I will try to communicate to my
reader as fully as possible.”
The exercises in this book are intended to help you develop habits so
that you will become a reader-oriented writer who fully communicates her
ideas to the reader. However, before starting the exercises you need to learn
some general principles about writing.
The Three Stages of Writing
Writing consists of three stages: (1) the pre-writing stage, (2) the writing
stage, and (3) the editing stage (the post-writing stage). You should spend
an equal amount of time on each of these three stages. I will only discuss
the pre-writing stage and the editing stage in this section.
The Pre-writing St age
In the pre-writing stage, you should dene the writing’s parameters. What
is your purpose in writing? Who is your audience? Are there any restraints
on the composition? What is your plan?
A paper’s general purpose is often obvious. For example, your boss may
ask you to write a memorandum on the law of constructive eviction in Vir-
ginia. However, can you go into more detail? Has your boss asked you to
write the memorandum so that he can learn the general law on construc-
tive eviction, or does the assignment concern a particular case? Should you
look just at Virginia law or also at the law of other jurisdictions? If a case
1. You are a self-directed learner. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t have bought this book. Self-
directed learners are constantly looking for ways to improve themselves.
Fruehwald_ABAP_LegWriting_20141016_14-18_confirmation pass.indd 2 10/30/14 4:17 PM

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