Sometimes, you might be lucky if you let your thoughts spill without considering the content and structure of an article.
Most often, though, lack of forethought shows.
It’s off-putting for readers used to streamlined stories. They switch off when they recognize unsolicited work resembling a private journal or long-winded blog (unless your personal journey is unusual and interesting to follow).
Here’s how to plan your article so people will want to read.
What’s the lead?
The lead, sometimes spelled ‘lede’ is the main idea you want to get across to readers. What do you want to say? Or, put it another way, what’s the point of your article or story?
Do you want to challenge an established assumption, for instance? Or share life-changing advice? Either way, it’s important to be clear before you write.
Next, consider those old favorites Who, What, and Why.
Write with a specific audience in mind. Who are your readers? Where do they originate? Is English their first language? Is their culture similar or different from yours?
What age group are they? Gender? What’s their education? What are their jobs and lifestyles?
Know who you write for and picture them. These are the people you must bear in mind when choosing the tone of your writing.
What’s the takeaway for your readers? The takeaway must be valuable. Not to you necessarily, but to your audience. What will they get from reading your work?
Will they learn a skill? Be entertained? Laugh? Change their minds about something important? Is the takeaway practical? Spiritual? Mental?
What’s unimportant and can be left out? Know what is unnecessary data and you won’t clog your article with boring filler material that diminishes the impact of what you want to say.
Why should people care about your writing? (We’re back to what’s in it for them). The takeaway must fulfill a reader’s need. If it isn’t valuable to them, they won’t care a jot about what you write and won’t read.
Make the reason for offering your takeaway clear. Talk about why it’s worthwhile. Can it improve the reader’s well-being, for instance? Help them make money? Increase their health? Get them out of a mental rut?
Don’t just offer your takeaway, explain why your readers need it to expand their health, wealth, or whatever is at stake. Mention the pitfalls of not accepting the takeaway so its value shines out like the glow of a lighthouse.
Look at why readers might not like your takeaway too. You can argue against potential objections and assuage their fears.
They might have read many articles under the same topic, for instance, that gave useless advice. In which case, explain why yours differs.
Or they may imagine your takeaway will be impractical time or money-wise. Address potential problems and your readers won’t flee.
You might get away without planning an article and be successful, but it’s unlikely. Know who you write for and why. Understand the main point you want to deliver and how it impacts readers. Offer value; a worthwhile takeaway that improves lives and your audience will be happy.
Copyright © 2018 Bridget Webber. All rights reserved