Best 5 Keys to Writing a Q&A Piece People Actually Want to Read

Edit for space and clarity

Even a 15-minute interview can result in a transcript that’s several thousand words long, much wordier than the Q&As most magazines or websites publish. The writer’s job is to find the most interesting parts of the interview and edit out the fluff, while still accurately capturing what the subject said.

Shatkin said she looks for “the most interesting, funniest, juiciest stuff” and nixes any repetition. “I reorder the questions to try to give the interview some sort of narrative or structure, grouping similar questions together,” she added.

Most Q&As don’t come out of the box perfectly formatted, and most people’s speaking habits are full of verbal ticks, colloquialisms, starts and stops, and fractured sentences. Unless you’re trying to capture a famous person’s speaking habits, it’s often better to edit the majority of these out for superior clarity. Just remember to keep any substantive changes in brackets, and to tell your editor that the piece has been edited for clarity.

And don’t forget to edit yourself. Keller likes to tighten up the question portion of the interview so his subjects get more real estate in the piece. “No one needs to hear me pontificate,” he said. After all, the piece is about your subject, not you. So keep the focus on the fascinating answers you’re prompting them to give.

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