Friday, August 3, 2012

Writing Articles (Part 8 of 21)

Focus your article.

Before you write, plan where you’re going. If you start with a single concept or idea, you decide on a beginning or introduction and bring in evidence to support your point.

If you have a distinct focus—a single idea—that's where you start. I strongly recommend a written outline. It helps you know where you start and becomes like a map to get you to the end.

Once you know you have the material structured, begin with an illustration or a statement that points readers in the direction the next six pages will take. The story can be either negative or positive—its purpose is to bring out the problem you want to resolve in the article. (This holds true with fiction: You start with someone having a problem.)

Ask yourself questions. Answer them in logical order so that each fact or incident naturally leads to the next.

For example (and those two words are a logical transition from the previous paragraph), you want to write about learning to forgive. The most obvious way is to set up the problem and it can be done in a few words or two paragraphs.
I can't remember when I began to detest Maynard. Was it in grade school when he played his stupid jokes on me? Was it the time he stole two dollars from my wallet? Or was it when he started dating Gina because he knew I liked her?
Now I have the problem—the obvious next thing is to resolve the issue. I don't like Maynard, but I need to get those angry, bad feelings out of life and forgive him. How do I forgive?

Move from setup to the logical steps you followed to forgive. Or you can point out that all of us have times we need to learn to forgive. You tell them the five things (or seven or three) they need to do. Use your story with Maynard to illustrate the steps.

I focus on a problem or situation 
and then show how to arrive at a solution.

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