You’ve probably heard you should write fast and edit slow.
And so you should. But how do you turn that rambling first draft into an effective appeal?
There’s definitely an art to writing a really great appeal. It takes time to learn. Time, and lots of trial and error.
But don’t despair!
There are things you can do that aren’t very hard and will improve your letter.
So write your first draft. And don’t worry about how much you’re writing. We’re going to prune that letter into shape!
- Rearrange paragraphs until they make sense.
- Find the place where your letter really starts. Cut out your throat-clearing warm up.
- Cut out any paragraphs that don’t fit.
- Look for your asks. (You do have multiple, specific asks, right?) If you haven’t placed some near the beginning, work some in now.
- Look for conjunctions and chop those sentences up. Shorter sentences are easier to understand. You can start a sentence with “and” or “but”. (I won’t tell your 4th grade English teacher.)
- Look for instances of the verb “to be”. Replace them with something more active.
- Look at your adverbs and adjectives. Are they necessary or decorative? Cut them if you don’t absolutely need them.
- Count your “yous”. Circle or highlight them. Your letter should be crawling with them. If it’s not, rework it.
- Look for “that”. It’s often unnecessary. Cut it.
- Use a readability tester. There’s one built into Word, or you can use this one. It will point out any complex phrases or words you might have missed. Rewrite everything you can. You’re aiming at a grade level between 4th and 6th here. Say it simply!
Want to know more? Here are some experts I turn to for stronger writing and appeals: