Article writing tips, techniques, strategies

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

How to Write an Uncommonly Good Article - Six Key Steps Part 1

It is a well-known fact that writing good quality articles and placing them on the internet is a great method for getting exposure. Unfortunately, it is also a great method for exposing yourself in a manner that you would prefer not to.

As an avid writer and reader I spend a few minutes every day reading the thoughts of other contributors. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised. Often I am not.

I see the same mistakes made time after time.

Before I list six common errors let me tell you that I spent many years as a professional letter writer, editor, proof reader, report writer and speech writer. I have also penned eight books and have had many letters, articles and short stories published in countless newspapers, magazines and, of course, all over the internet.

If you want to check this for yourself you can look on any search engine and you will see my name come up all over the place. (Now I am really going to be under pressure to perform at the highest level.) Enough about my credentials.

Mistakes...

I am going to list some of the most annoying ones for a reader. Fixing them will definitely make your writing stronger. Here they are:

I know this seems ridiculously obvious BUT please use the spell checker on your computer. It will not pick up every mistake but it will reveal obvious ones. That is a good start.

Too many spelling mistakes will destroy your credibility. People will wonder what other mistakes you make. That leads them to questioning the accuracy of your information.

Space your writing into easy to read paragraphs. If you are the sort of writer who just starts at the top left hand corner of the page and finishes in the bottom right hand corner of the page then you need to stop doing that. Why? The main reason is that NOBODY will read it. Nothing is more confronting to a reader than a massive block of unbroken text.

See what I just did? The paragraph was getting too big. Lots of "white space" around short paragraphs is far easier to read. A dozen or so paragraphs is far easier to read than something that looks like some lawyer's horrible legal document.

I used to place the pages at my feet, stand up, then view them for visual effect. If the paragraphs looked too chunky then I would create more "white space." Eventually I was able to do this naturally from my desk.

Keep your paragraphs to one key theme. Arrange them logically. That is, present one idea per paragraph and stick to it. If you want to say something else that is not in keeping with the theme then start a new paragraph.

Chopping and changing subjects within paragraphs makes your thoughts look jumbled. Do this and you will also lose readers. They will think they are playing a game of mental "snakes and ladders."

Use short sentences. Again, see what I did? That first sentence was only three words. The next was just five. This sentence is only six words.

Several short sentences with an occasional long sentence like this one will give variation. Short sentences are easily understood.

If you use very long sentences people will have to go back to re-read them to understand what you are saying. Is that what you want?

Never use big or unusual words when shorter or more common words will do the same job.
Often people will use big words to impress their readers. Let me assure you - it is not impressive. You will lose readers.

Having said that - if a large word gives a specific meaning that no other word can then you should use it. Just don't make people run for the lexicon too often. Sorry. I should have said dictionary. See what I mean?

Proof read your article several times to ensure that it makes sense. A good method is to read it, make any necessary changes then come back to it later. Only when you are happy with your article should you submit it for publication.

To summarize:

Use the spell checking facility on your computer

Space your writing into paragraphs with sufficient "white space" around it

Keep paragraphs within specific themes

Short sentences are easier to understand

Common words are easier to understand

Proof read your work before submitting it.

If you adhere to these six key points your writing will improve and your readers will appreciate you for it.

About the author: Gary Simpson is the author of eight books covering a diverse range of subjects such as self esteem, affirmations, self defense, finance and much more. His articles appear all over the web. Click here to go to his Motivation & Self Esteem for Success website where you can receive his "Zenspirational Thoughts" plus an immediate FREE copy of his highly acclaimed, life-changing e-book "The Power of Choice."

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