Haven’t written in a while—and have a deadline looming fast? Here’s a just-the-essentials brush-up on writing a piece with a compelling beginning, cohesive paragraphs that flow from one to the next, and an ending that resonates with your readers.
- Okay so you've gotta write quickly, but maybe writing isn't really your thing, or maybe it's been a while since you wrote, or maybe you just lack confidence when it comes to stringing words and sentences and paragraphs together into something great. No sweat, I got you covered. We're gonna roll through a quick review of some must know basics of crafting a cohesive compelling message that aught to be just what the reluctant writer needs for a one and done writing project. No matter what you're writing, whether it's an article, a business letter, or even a speech, you need to consider your audience's point of view at all times during the writing process.
That means from the very beginning and at every point throughout you have to be thinking, what would they want to know here? What questions might they be asking? What answers would they find interesting, and how do I keep them reading to the very end? You do that by making every sentence as fascinating as possible, and cutting out anything that isn't absolutely necessary. You're beginning shouldn't meander. Cut to the chase, what's this about, why should your readers care, and what can they expect to find if they read on? Remember that their time is valuable, so promise them something worthwhile and deliver on that.
State your main point up high. Don't make them dig for it because guess what, they won't. In this press release for instance, we cut right to the chase and tell readers the most important thing we want them to know. The Landon Hotel is offering a new weekend special. This is the main point and everything that follows it is less important. When you have a point to make, make it crystal clear, but make it once. It's great to give some context and back it up with examples, but if you find yourself feeling the need to restate your point over and over in different ways to make sure you got the message across, you probably didn't.
Go back and say it better the first time. Then move on to your next point. Avoid cliches. Readers eyes glaze right over them, rendering them meaningless words that are just taking up space. If you've heard it before, in a nutshell, jumping through hoops, horse's mouth, hold you to the fire, run the gamut, then find a new way to say it, a you way to say it. For example, in this press release, you might be inclined to say, escape for a weekend that's sure to leave you feeling good as new, or leave you feeling like a million bucks, but those are cliches, they're obvious, they're trite.
Instead, try something fresher and more meaningful. A weekend that's sure to leave you energized, recharged, and ready to face the fall. One fun trick of engaging writers is to replace all of your dull passive verbs like is, and are, and has with active verbs that infuse your writing with energy. For example, instead of saying there are 12 spectacular items on the menu. Try, 12 spectacular items comprise the menu.
Rather than before they are gone, say, before they vanish, or before they disappear. Finally, give some thought to your ending. It shouldn't just be the place where you stopped writing. Ideally it should resonate like the last note in a symphony. Hanging in your audiences thoughts even after they've stopped reading. And that's not gonna happen if you just repeat your thesis statement SAT style. For a powerful ending, you can use a great quote that you've set aside for this very purpose, or you can spin readers forward a bit, getting them thinking about how what they've just read will apply to the future.
You could also tell them where to get more information. You've just told them all you know on a subject, now offer suggestions and links out on where they can keep exploring if they want more, or come full circle. When you can tie back to something you mentioned early on. An image or a particular phrase or idea you introduced in the first part of your piece. It gets readers a satisfying sense that you've sewn up the whole package very neatly for them. For more in depth writing tips, check out the courses Writing in Plain English, Writing Articles, and Business Writing Fundamentals.
When you combine all of these tips, you can produce a piece that feels professional and polished and still lets you finish on time.
- Identify one thing you should do early on in your timeline.
- Explain how to zoom in on your main message.
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- Recognize why you shouldn’t keep chasing that “better idea” once you’re deep into the writing process.
- Explain how to be remembered as the writer who makes deadlines look easy.