Today’s writing tip comes from the adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh, when Christopher Robin said: “Organization is what you do before you do it, so when you do it, it’s not all messed up.” When it comes to writing, organization starts with focus and structure. Both focus and structure are vital if you are to avoid getting messed up.
Focus is the driving force behind your writing. It’s your big idea, summarized in a short sentence. Award-winning author and book writing and publishing coach, Dianna Booher, talks about the important of focus like this: “If you can’t write your message in a sentence, you can’t say it in an hour.”
Once you are clear about your focus, it’s time to think about structure: how you will build your piece of writing so you take your readers on a clear and compelling journey.
Generally, any piece of writing (any piece of communication) breaks down into four sections:
In our media-saturated, short attention-span world, we have to grab our audience. We have to hook ‘em.
A headline, an image, compelling words, a story – it doesn’t matter what you use. But don’t go fishing without bait on the hook.
Pretty soon the audience will want to know why this matters to them. You need to provide a little context – but not a whole history lesson. Context is important, but it can be dry and boring of you try to deliver too much too early.
The development is where you’ll start to reel-in your catch. You’ll provide convincing arguments to support your case or your claim: maybe testimonials, perhaps price comparisons.
The conclusion should include a compelling call to action.
Here’s another way of thinking about structure. In the world of copywriters, a device called the Motivating Sequence was popularized by Robert W Bly. His system has five elements:
- Get attention
- Identify problem/need
- Offer solution/answer
- Prove your solution/answer is best
- Invite action
Working out focus and structure takes time. But it’s an investment. It gives you a way of getting to grips with a daunting task.
This blog is taken from our free White Paper ‘Tips for Writers’. You can download it from the link below.
Neil Everton has distilled a lifetime’s experience with some of the world’s top news organizations into his Media Mastery training aids for anyone worried about talking to reporters. The video, books, e-books and workbooks are available in the Podium Coaching online store.