Revising an essay? Try this:
Underline the most significant sentence in each paragraph, one that evokes that section’s central meaning.
Or pick the sentence that is the most striking (in terms of imagery or ideas; you decide).
In a separate document, write the chosen sentences in order, creating paragraphs as (or if) needed.
This new piece is stark, with all the frills stripped away.
Now that you have the essence of your narrative, you can re-introduce passages that are absolutely necessary. Or, maybe this version is exactly what you were getting at all along!
In a five-minute freewrite, reflect on what emerged for you as you chose the sentences or read the stripped-down version of your original piece.
This exercise can be helpful when revising fiction or poetry, as well.