How can we be sure we’ve conveyed our message to the reader if we don’t follow basic journalistic guidelines?
Basic journalism and English class taught us that the majority of things we read or write will have a basic structure to it. Blogging and writing for the internet often side step from this structure. The material can still be informative but not as powerful as it should be. It often leaves the reader feeling like they’ve missed something. Remember the times you’ve started watching a movie in the middle and missed the beginning? You wonder what you missed that might explain the story better. It’s the same if you miss the ending of a movie, you keep wondering what happened and want to return to find out. If we leave our reader hanging it’s impossible for them to return to find out what they missed because it’s not there to begin with.
An article should contain three basic parts; an introduction, the body and a conclusion. In writing for the internet I find that many writers are weak with their introduction and conclusion. I, myself, find this to be one of my weaknesses. Today I’m going to cover the three basic parts of an article and why they’re important.
The Introduction. The introduction is where your article makes its grand entrance. Think of it as the main stage performer who often comes onto the stage in an elaborate manner and awes the audience. You need this in your introduction to grab the readers attention.
As writers, we should put as much effort into writing a great introduction as we do in writing the body of the material.
When you pick up a novel in a book store and read the first page, is that where the writer grabs your attention? If you aren’t interested after the first page, the book goes back into the shelf. Writing for the internet or your own blog is much the same way, grab the reader so they keep reading.
The body. Now that we’ve gotten the readers attention with our great introduction, it’s time to keep their attention and give them the information they were seeking. Just like the performer who’s made his grand entrance, he has to hold the audience in his hand and make them feel like they haven’t wasted their time being there. The audience has come for a show, just as the reader has come to find out something important. Give them what they came for.
Information within the body should be planned out and in some kind of order; either chronological or spatial. Chronological order begins at the beginning and ends at the end, like a timeline.
Spacial order is when one point leads to another. If the material doesn’t fit in a timeline it can be written in spatial order to show how one thing relates to the next.
We use order and structure to avoid jerking our reader all over the place. We want to reel them in like fish, but we sure don’t want them to fight it like a fish.
The conclusion. Here, we remind the reader of the information we’ve just given them. We reaffirm the message and draw a conclusion. By this time our stage performer would be dripping with sweat and breathing very hard if he’s done his job and he takes a bow. In a sense this is where the writer takes a bow by reminding the reader what he’s just read.
If you have difficulty with this section refer to your introduction to make sure you’ve covered the points you intended.
Writers who use a journalistic style on the internet make it easier for the reader because they use a basic method that Aristotle gave about speeches:
1. Tell them what you’re going to tell them. (Introduction)
2. Tell them. (Body)
3. Tell them what you told them. (Conclusion)
Although Aristotle was referring to speeches, isn’t writing merely a written speech not spoken?
Using basic writing structure will not only improve your writing skills, it will keep the readers attention, ensure that you’ve given the intended message and be more powerful.
Make sure your reader isn’t left feeling like they missed a beginning or an ending. The important stuff is in the middle but all alone it’s just not complete.
Write a great article using these basic journalism methods, wow your reader and then take a bow.