writinganarticle

Writing an Article

Writing an article needn’t be a scary business. You will be writing an article for one of two reasons: either you want to write it for what ever reason, or a publication or PR firm has asked you to write it.

The first thing to do is to try and relax and enjoy the experience. If you are writing about a subject you specialise in, remember you are the expert, however, don’t write in a technical verbose style.

Explain it simply in English that is easily understandable. I am an advocate of the ‘Granny’ method. Write as if you are explaining it to your grandmother. This ensures your style is simple and you don’t take it for granted that the reader knows exactly what it is you are talking about.

Before you even begin to plan an article it is critical to have all the facts at your fingertips, whether it might be through interviewing subjects, receiving a brief from the client and simply desk based research on the particular subject. With this vital information in your possession, it is now possible to begin planning the article.

A useful first step is often to list the key points you wish to get across in ‘bullet point’ fashion. Are they in the right order? Is the information being conveyed to the reader in the appropriate order? Does it seem to have a logical introduction, middle and a conclusion?

How many words are you going to write? Once you know approximately how many words you wish your article to have you can apportion the relevant number of words to each of your pre-planned bullet points.

These pre planned bullet points will then become paragraphs in their own right. Slowly start to flesh out each bullet point until you reach your planned word count. If your target is to write 1000 words and you have five main key points you want to get across, your plan should be to write five paragraphs each containing 200 words.

The size of the paragraphs may vary, but this will stop you writing too much and ending up with a document that needs ‘chopping’ to size. This rough guide will stand you in good stead.

If an editor asks for 500, 750, 1000 or 1500 words you must hit that target. He will not have the time to edit your article down and may even end up not using it as a result.

Consider your audience. Try to put yourself in the shoes of the reader. What sort of person are they likely to be? What level of detail will they be able to absorb? How technical should you get? Should it be light hearted? What is the general style of the publication for which is intended? What tense should it be written in?

If writing for a magazine or periodical, you may wish to select excerpts to be highlighted or used as picture captions for example.

If based on a personal interview, it can often be wise to check the factual accuracy of the ascribed quotes with the interviewee. It will always save later embarrassment and possibly worse – litigation!

Finally proof read for spelling, grammatical or technical errors, better still get another person to read it as well. The eyes of a writer often see what they think they have written, rather that what they have!

If writing for publication, ensure you are aware of deadlines for submission in good time. Whether you are writing a leaflet to be printed, or an article for a magazine, remember they won’t stop the press for you!

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