If your work doesn’t suffer from cutting the first and last paragraphs, I’d suggest it’s a strong indicator that you’re not very good at writing first and last paragraphs.

Perhaps you’re still overly hung up on concepts of the “introduction” and “conclusion”, and you ought to be getting straight to the point more quickly.

In any case, if you know you’re going to do this anyway, you will — consciously or unconsciously — write the second and penultimate paragraphs with their eventual role as first and last in mind.

Another piece of advice that sounds radical and out-of-the-box but is simply not very smart. There are lots of ways to improve writing, but blindly and automatically cutting particular paragraphs regardless of their content is surely not one of them.

Barnaby is a journalist based in Suffolk, UK. By day he covers science and public policy; by night, film and classical music. He has also been a cinema manager.

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