It goes back to the days of swing sets and monkey bars; when girls were still ‘yucky.’ I say, ‘I always start with the 5 W’s with a little personalization.’ They shoot me a painfully sarcastic grin and usually walk away saying. ‘Thanks Mort. A lot of good that did me.’
I quickly go to grab them and say, ‘Seriously, that’s how I do it.’
I know their dilemma: What makes an interesting story? What engages readers? How do you write something that gets noticed? And how do you put it all together to write a blog post that’s worth reading?
It all starts with covering the basics. Here’s what I tell the few who stick around to listen:
As crazy as it seems (my own sarcasm here), I simply research people who are making headlines related to my main topic.
For instance, if I am going to write about cuts in funding to firefighters for a political campaign, I research ‘the ramifications of funding cuts to firefighters or firehouses.’
I get a host of opinions on the web about anyone and everyone talking about exactly the issue I want to address. Then I link to them as a courtesy, á la footnotes as you did in your high school themes, and move on.
Oftentimes this is determined by the client, content house or your own personal preference for which you are writing. Today, my customer is you and me. I am writing about proper writing techniques and getting back to the basics you already know. I have some background in the subject and am somewhat of an expert so I suspect it will be relevant to you and me.
If I were writing on something like electrolysis, which I know nothing about, I would look it up and read for an hour. If you love your pets and want to write about pet basics just read, learn, and write about your pets to gain credibility.
If you make a mistake or someone questions your tactics, you will research the matter (as if you already haven’t), cite sources to back up your stance that ‘training with a Milk Bone is just fine!!! So deal with it!’ (unless of course you are training a cat).
Be objective. Be opinionated. Just don’t make up your own ‘facts’ and you’ll be fine.
If I were using ‘where’ in a literal sense, I would tell you to find someplace quiet, with little distraction and write on your PC. It’s good advice, but that’s not what I am getting at.
While writing, take your readers through a visual journey of your mental proximity. In other words, describe visual scenes in the story that people can relate to. Use adjectives. Make it real.
As an example, at the beginning of this post, I took you back to the grade school playground. I conjured up an image of a cat begging for a Milk Bone.
Describe the images in your head, unless they are of clowns (of course, if you want to strike terror in the hearts of many, by all means go ahead). Use colors. Use sensory language to bring it to life. This all impacts the story.
When you write the story can make all the difference. I write primarily on the weekends. When I write for others, I write to meet their deadlines.
Research suggests that Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are the best times to write and publish in the western world because it’s the middle of the work week and people start looking to small diversions from work, as the hustle and bustle of the first two days has calmed.
Certainly, your expert article could be related to their line of work. Just make it informative enough that they will not feel guilty taking 5 minutes to read it if they have chosen to engage.
This is where you wrap things up. Restate the first four W’s. Explain why they are important.
For instance in this story, I want to tell you proper structure can make all the difference in an article. In the Western world you are taught to follow this story format from grammar school up.
People want to know all the basics, so give it to them. Then either expand…or wrap it up.
Just do it
Now this is where I normally wax poetic with opinions about the subject at hand, so I will do just that. Just like in Pixar’s Ratatouille where the main character’s idol suggests, ‘anyone can cook’ (which, by the way, I firmly believe), anyone can write.
If you have passion, an opinion or a love for a subject (or even better, you are paid to become an expert on the subject matter), writing comes easily if you master these basics.
Share practice articles with friends and family for feedback. Pen a creative short about the wildest thought of your imagination and target it on the web. Oddly enough, no matter how bizarre the subject matter, someone out there shares your interests, thoughts and emotions. The key is to capture those thoughts and emotions using the basics you were taught so long ago.
Give me your best first draft and I may feature it in next week’s blog. And don’t be afraid to try. Often times, the most poignant stories come from where one would least expect. Be bold and go for it.
About the Author: Mike Moriarty has been into writing, social media and content generation for 19+ years now. He heads up marketing at K-LaserUSA. Prior to that he wrote organic SEO and ghost pieces for customers. His aim in blogging is to help others by sharing his own experiences, mistakes and successes.