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By Jennigay Coetzer

Pic-writing tips-4

A major objective is to attract the reader’s attention, pull them into the article and keep their attention throughout.

 

To achieve this, it is important to choose a focused topic. This will keep you on track and avoid getting distracted and ending up with too many ideas in the article.

When gathering content, put yourself in the readers’ shoes and think about what they would be interested to know and all the questions they might want answered, and not just what you want to tell them. If you are only writing the article to please yourself, don’t expect anyone else to want to read it.

When you are ready to start writing, remember that you need to get to the point quickly without any preamble and be clear and concise. Every sentence you write should be a strong statement, so be careful not to make sentences too long.

Consider the lowest common denominator among those who might be reading your article. For example, if it is going to be published on the internet, remember that anyone might stumble across it while searching for information to enlighten or entertain them.

Have a conversation with the reader, and if you have difficulties doing this you might want to try verbalising what you want to say by saying it out loud first before writing it down. Imagine how you would say it if you were telling someone face to face, instead of trying to think of the smartest words to use.

Clarify what you are saying by making statements that are clear, concise, articulate and complete and cannot be misunderstood or misinterpreted.

If you are vague or leave gaps in the information you are imparting readers will make their own assumptions as to what you mean based on their own understanding of the topic, their background, experience, culture, personality, biases, and other human factors.

Using examples is a powerful way to add clarity to your statements and put them in context by creating a clear picture in the reader’s mind. Depending on the topic, supporting statistics can also help to clarify a statement you are making by giving the reader a quantified measure, a point of reference, a place to start.

For example, saying research shows that 83% of adults prefer not to carry cash around with them creates a clearer picture than saying most people prefer not to carry cash around with them. It also ensures that all those reading the sentence are starting at the same point, whereas different people have different perceptions of what the word most means, because it is a vague word.

Bearing these tips in mind will help to ensure the content of your articles richer and more interesting for the reader, and the same goes for anything else you are writing.

 

When you have finished writing the article, make sure you have not left any questions in the mind of the reader. You can do this by applying the “So what?” technique to every statement you have written and ensuring this question is answered as quickly as possible as the article continues.

Jennigay Coetzer is a freelance writer and journalist with 30 years experience. She also runs writing skills workshops, and is the author of A Perfect Press Release – or Not?, a guide to writing effective press releases, an ebook version of which can be downloaded free from her website: www.jennigay.co.za. Jennigay also does media training.


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