Abandon hope all ye who enter here.
Edgar Allen Poe
In the right hands the English language can be a mighty tool. The seven words above, strung together by Edgar Allen Poe, show the venomous power of words well chosen. Modern day scribes arm themselves with an arsenal of these, put them through the mix and come up with priceless phrases that attract the required audience.
By following a few basic steps anyone can write a good article. Obviously improvement comes with practice and no amount of information can turn you into an accomplished writer, but application and re-application will bring success. In this article and others following, I hope to offer the, “amateur writer,” enough information to write successfully.
Verbosity can become tedious and stop the reader in their tracks. Adjectives and adverbs may work wonders for a novel, but unless you are writing one, stick to nouns and verbs. Let the reader select their own adjectives and adverbs.
The Leading Paragraph
Like hard news stories in any newspaper, the first paragraph should explain what the article is about. It should answer, “who”, “when”, “what” and “where”. Check this example:
A 25 year old man (who), was charged by police yesterday (when), for breaking into a liquor store(what), in the outer eastern suburbs of Metropolis(where) . The paragraphs following will go on to explain the leading paragraph in detail. The leading paragraph is often read by most people. Everything you need to say should be included in the lead and if it garners enough interest in the reader, they will read further.
Research Then Research
Thorough research is the key to good writing. Get your facts right and you will be believed. Read up on your subject and if it is about a person, thoroughly interview them. If it is about a product or service you are trying to sell, the same applies. Know it well.
Spelling And Grammar
Proper spelling and correct grammar are essential ingredients in good writing. If you want to be taken seriously, check your spelling, check your grammar making sure commas, full stops are where they should be. Line up your paragraphs in a neat, easy flowing manner and use quotation marks to enclose direct quotes, followed by the name of the quoter. Getting someone to read your finished script often brings to light small errors that may need altering.
This final stage leads back to verbosity again. Read your script carefully and delete any unnecessary words, paragraphs or statements. As writers we often stray from the point or over-elaborate. This is nearly always the case in first and second drafts. The finished product should be easy to read, cover the essential points, interest the reader, and hopefully remain memorable.
This should be enough information to begin with. In my next installment, I will discuss the differences between the 4 major article types. Hard news, investigative, writing, psychological, and informative. Nearly all non-fiction writing styles fall into these categories.
Until then, good luck with your writing!