By Jennigay Coetzer

Good writers have the target readers in mind when they write an article, as opposed to just focusing on what they want to say. When people read an article they are looking for what’s in it for them, and if they cannot see this quickly they will move on.

So, when you are planning your article and doing your research, and while you are writing it make sure you identify with the target readers. Put yourself in their shoes and anticipate what would interest them, and all the questions they are likely to want answered as they are reading what you have written.

While going through this process, remember that you will need to consider the lowest common denominator of the audience. Otherwise you will run the risk of losing half the readers because they don’t understand what you are saying.

Good writers speak in conversational terms, get to the point quickly, speak plain English and don’t try to be clever with words. In his book On Writing, Steven King says people use smart words because they are a little bit ashamed of their simple ones.

Think about how you would say what you are writing if you were having a verbal conversation with your readers. Make sure everything you are writing in your article is articulate and concise and that it will create a clear picture in the readers’ minds that leaves no room for misinterpretation or misunderstanding.

When you have finished writing your article read it through objectively from the reader’s point of view and ensure that every sentence answers the question, “So what?” It is also important to ensure there are no gaps in the information you have written that can be filled with assumptions or leave room for speculation.

Jennigay CoetzerJennigay Coetzer is a freelance business and technology journalist with 25 years experience, and she writes regularly for Business Day. Email Jennigay at jennigay@icon.co.za for more information about her upcoming writing skills workshops or connect with her on LinkedIn. An ebook version of her book A Perfect Press Release – or Not?, a guide to writing press releases, can be downloaded free from her website: www.jennigay.co.za.



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