You don’t need to be a great writer to write great articles, just be fast and entertaining. There is only ONE SINGLE THING you need to know about article writing.
Tell a story.
Stories are easy to follow and interesting. Why are the Chicken Soup for the Soul books interesting? Because they’re stories people can relate to. (I bet the most “interesting” person you know is the one with the best stories to tell.)
With a story, there is progress for the reader and events are locked together: this happened, then this happened, then this happened. It’s easy to skip over the stuff that wastes space.
Have you ever read a book, or watched a movie, WITHOUT some kind of story or journey? If you did, the cover of that book probably said something like “Dictionary,” “Owner’s Manual,” or, “Book of Poetry.” If that was a movie, the VHS cover probably said, “Run this in your VCR to clean the heads.”
Learn to be at least a mediocre storyteller. You’d never see a good storyteller telling a story for 5 minutes in front of a campfire, then say, “Wait a minute, let me start over.” All you need to be a good storyteller is have a lot of practice. Write every day or week. Write well enough so your writing doesn’t require a lot of editing, after OR during the writing process.
Write fast. If you are writing about something you love you already know exactly how to say it. When you have something to say, get it on paper as fast as possible and don’t stop writing (or typing) until it’s done. No need to be fancy.
Do NOT write on “autopilot.” Everything you write in your article should be an answer to some sort of question. This makes sure you are making progress instead of aimlessly adding fluff. Get to the point.
I’m not saying every single thing you write has to be a story full of inspiring imagery. Your stories don’t even have to be obvious. If you are doing how-to article the story part of it might be 5% or less (Point 1, Point 2, Point 3… barely a story, but there is still a step-by-step order).
Advice-type articles might contain 80% to 90% story. That’s because you have less to say, therefore more room to say it, so you can tie your points in to the way the birds crash into the water where you live, or some other hippie ramblings.
When you get to the end of your story, it’s very easy to bring it back to the beginning. Think of the one word that sums up your entire article. Write your last couple of sentences and end on that word. That’s the so-called secret to writing material that people will read, but at the same time can be written quickly.
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This article was posted on August 12, 2005