Which trait do you start with when you have a trait-based writing program? Voice? Word  choice? Organization? Conventions? Does it matter? We–Jeff and I–happen to think it matters very much. We recommend beginning with the trait of ideas (and all our instructional materials reflect this) because this trait is foundational. It’s literally the heart and soul of good writing. We all begin writing with an idea in our heads, however rough–a point to make, something to share, a poem that lives in our imagination, a story just waiting to be told. Facts, observations, details, images: they’re all part of ideas. For a super successful journey through the traits, begin with ideas and allow plenty of time before moving on. You will be amazed how much strong ideas influence other traits. Details enrich voice and spark strong word choice and sentences, too. Writers who focus on detail also have an easier time with that most troublesome trait: organization. More about this later!

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