Every writer encounters an article they just can’t seem to get right. Either there’s something wrong with the idea or there’s a particularly troublesome paragraph which ruins the entire flow. To make things even more problematic, writers almost never come across exactly the same problem. There’s nearly always some quirk to each issue which makes writing the article so frustrating. What follows is a list of the most common problems and how to rectify them.
Reading Past the Title
If you’ve ever read an article online or in a newspaper you probably know the value of a good title. Readers simply don’t read any further than the title if it doesn’t hook them in. Pick a title which answers a potential problem, or reveals something you may have never known before. If it isn’t going to change someone’s view or enhance their thoughts there’s little point in reading an article. Powerful words and alliteration work to grab the reader’s attention.
A rule of thumb is if you don’t find your title interesting they won’t either.
Cold and Numb
Writing extremely general articles doesn’t draw anybody in. Make your tone warm and speak to the reader as if they are the only person in the room. It helps to capture the attention and makes them feel included. If you are talking to them directly what you’re saying is more likely to resonate.
No newspaper or major online publication publishes something which was written in about ten minutes. Every good piece of work requires planning to get right. Plan out your great article and highlight the most important points. You might find some of your points contradict themselves or weaken the article as a whole. Having everything set out in front of you lets you catch problems before your editor does.
Get to the Point
Don’t spend multiple paragraphs setting the scene. This isn’t a novel. You only have a limited amount of space. Allude to your main point in the opening paragraph. Make it clear what the piece is about. This informs the reader and assures them they want to keep going. But don’t let this catch you out, stick to the point. If your introduction says you are going to focus on something you must focus on it.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t bring in anything else, it just means it must play a major part. You don’t even have to launch in to this point. As long as it forms the meat of the article there’s nothing wrong with using any weaker, yet still relevant, points to support your writing.
Who are You?
As we already established above, readers want to feel included. To promote this view, ensure your writing is targeted towards the audience. It’s no use molding your tone to fit the reader if it’s completely the wrong audience. Establish your audience from the beginning. Tailor your planning, writing, and proofreading to the target audience. If your audience is a community of intellectuals, break out your fancy vocabulary. There’s no need to waste time on simplifying everything here.
In terms of planning this can also impact the points you make. In a 500-word article the writer only has a limited amount of space to make their points. In the case of a community of intellectuals you can assume some things. You don’t have to waste time reiterating the subject’s background since they already understand it. Just launch into the meat of your article and save the scene setting for another time.
Ask for Help
For your articles you should really use independent grammar checking tools, or even a proofreading service. These pieces of software aren’t necessaril
y the most accurate in the world, but they are handy for catching out the more common errors. Also, it’s always worth giving the article to a trusted friend or colleague. Even if they don’t understand the actual subject they can point out any mistakes you might have missed. Don’t rely on your editor to catch these things because they might simply throw it in the bin if there are too many basic errors.
Poor grammar and basic spelling mistakes can kill any good article.
The Guest Article was contributed by Alice Norum. Alice is a writer
for online proofreading services
website and she regularly contributes articles on writing.