It's Elementary: Three Clues to Good Writing

It's Elementary: Three Clues to Good Writing

It's Elementary: Three Clues to Good Writing

When I edit my own or other writers' work I look for three things to jump off the page. What is it? Why should I care? How should I proceed? If I have to look hard to find any of these - or worse, if I can't find them at all - there is more work to be done.

What is it?

The title should either tell me what the article is about or so intrigue me that I'm willing to begin reading without knowing. “Informed Consent: Ethical Considerations of RFID”. “Powerful Presentations: How You Can CREATE More Memorable Sales Messages”. “The Naked Gardener's Green Thumb”.

Why should I care?

Tell me early on why I should care enough to read your article, and make it about me, not about you. (I read good writers not because they write well, but because they teach me to write well.) Tell me that your article will help me close more sales or write better web copy. Make a wild claim that you can teach me to outsmart my toddler. Whatever it is, hook me with a WIFM (What's In It For Me?). Here's how:

  • Identify a challenge and say that you can help me overcome it. "Studies show that as few as eight out of every 100 sales calls end with the physician meeting the rep and remembering what was said."
  • Make me curious. "How can you be one of those eight memorable reps?"
  • Offer a benefit statement. "Follow the CREATE model in your sales presentations and you can change prescribing behavior on every call."
  • Show your expertise. If you're an expert on your chosen topic, write with authority. If you're not an expert, write with authority anyway. It's your article. It's your responsibility to use references and expert quotes appropriately to fill in any gaps in your fund of knowledge.

How should I proceed?

Now tell me what I'm supposed to do with what you've presented.

  • Restate your key point. “When you CREATE sales presentations that are Clear, Relevant, Engaging, Accurate, Timely and Enthusiastic, you demonstrate that
    you are a professional who respects and understands your customers.”
  • Suggest an action plan. Give me direction for bringing the WIFM to life. For example, list specific skills and strategies I can use to change physician prescribing behavior.
  • Reiterate the benefit statement. “You set the stage for an open, mutually beneficial dialogue that allows you to make a difference on every call.”
  • Call me to action. Challenge me. Encourage me. Incite me. Leave me with the impression that I simply can not wait another day to change.

Now go out there and write. The world is waiting!

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Copyright © 2007 by Sally Bacchetta. All rights reserved.


Sally Bacchetta

Sally writes training content and designs instruction for online and face-to-face deployment for clients in a variety of industries, including pharmaceutical, healthcare, security, financial services, and business services. In addition, she writes articles for publication, website content, corporate communications, marketing collateral, promotional pieces, press releases, and white papers.