English · Legal Skill

How to enhance your writing skill? (Chapter 1 – Process of writing)

Writing is not an act, it is an action. In other words, the work of writing is not only picking up your pen and writing down what you are thinking, but also things that make your writing become more effectively. These successive acts create a whole process of writing. It is what you do at the keyboard while creating an office memo – how you think while you write.

There are five-main stages of writing:

  1. Research and analyzing what you find
  2. Organizing your raw materials into an outline
  3. Producing a first draft
  4. Rewriting it through several more drafts
  5. Polishing it

First, research and analyzing, you need to raise several questions about law and facts need to be resolved to accomplish to your goal. Analyzing the information by figure out on which they rely, what they mean and how they govern the client’s facts.

Second, organizing your raw materials into an outline, legal writing is organized in ways that reflect the way lawyers and judges analyze legal issues. Good organization puts material exactly where the reader will need it. A fluid outlining method is simpler and helps you write effectively.

        In this step, I recommend two sub-steps:

First of all, for each issue, a conclusion needs to be reached.  To prove a conclusion of law, you should to follow these steps:

  1. State your conclusion.
  2. State the primary rule that supports the conclusion.
  3. Prove and explain the rule through citation to authority, description of how the authority stands for the rule, discussion of subsidiary rules, analyses of policy, and counter analyses. (this is rule proof)
  4. Apply the rule’s elements to the facts with the aid of subsidiary rules, supporting authority, policy consideration and counter – analyses. (this is rule application)
  5. Sum up by restating your conclusion.

Second, to make a fluid outline, you just assemble everything. For each issue or sub-issue, take a piece of paper and write four abbreviated headings on it (for example: “concl” for conclusion, “sub-concl”, “RP” for rule proof, “RA” for rule application).

By doing these steps, you will be able to systematize the facts as well as materials in a visible and well-organized way.

Back to third step of the process, a draft needs to be produced. Many students treat the first draft as the most important part of writing, but that is wrong. The only purpose of a first draft is to get things down on the page to you can start rewriting.

Fourth, the most important thing in this stage is that you shift focus to the reader. A useful tip for this is between drafts, you stop writing for a day or two, clear your mind by working on something else. The larger documents need more drafts than the shorter ones. To experience what the reader will experience, some writers read their drafts out loud so they can imagine how the same words will strike the reader, and if you reach a higher level, you will develop the ability to “hear” the word saying without speaking it out loud.

Fifth, the last stage, polishing it. First thing you need to do is being away for at least a day to make our mind fresh. Then, print the document so you can see it exactly the way the reader will see it. Taking a look again at some vague and ambiguous word. When you wrote the words, they seemed clear because at that moment you knew what you were trying to say, but after some time has passed, you are no longer in that frame of mind. So, while checking it again, you should make sure that a reasonable person can understand them completely.

After finishing those above steps, you finished.

In the next chapter, I “cherry-picked” the most importance pieces of information and tips related to those five-main stage, and reorganized it as the following order:

                Chapter 2. General writing skill

                Chapter 3. Predictive writing

                Chapter 4. Persuasive writing

                Chapter 5. Practicing legal writing

In these next chapters, we will go further to discover the way to become a professional writer.


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