Dana Isokawa of the Margins Recommends...

When I edit a piece, whether it is an essay, article, or poem, I latch on to a writer’s transitions and section breaks. In these leaps, I often detect the joints in a writer’s logic, hear their voice, and observe them negotiating the said versus the unsaid. I find that a strong transition leaves space for the ideas of the preceding stanza or section to bloom in a reader’s mind. It can be a stretch of quiet before shifting to a different register, time, or phase of an argument.

I recommend revising drafts and focusing on your breaks. You could ask yourself: What is going unsaid? Have I articulated the consequences or stakes of what I just raised? Can this section end earlier? Is it reaching the same conclusion as another section (i.e., am I repeating myself)? You might even try removing all but each section’s first and last sentences or lines, reading it through to gauge the flow of your ideas. It might incite deeper thinking or restructuring of your piece.

Dana Isokawa, editor in chief, the Margins