To write short -- and well -- on any topic requires three things: Focus, Focus, Focus.

Different writers count different steps of the writing process: from idea generation, to reporting and research, to drafting and revision. But all successful writers have on their workbench a variety of tools to help them focus their stories.

Think about it: A news peg is a focusing tool. So is a budget item. Or a headline. Or a lead. Or a nut graph. Or a theme statement. All are designed to help the writer share with the reader the heart of the story, the answer to the question: Why is this worth reading? Dozens of problems cascade down the front of an unfocused story.

In this week's writing chat, we talked about the central act of the writing process: Finding a focus.

You can replay the chat here ...