Regardless of the type of writing you do, some good writing strategies will help you determine the best beginning and end for your article or story. These strategies will help you keep the audience interested and make your story more fun to read. If you’ve ever been reading a story and you become sidetracked because something in the story just doesn’t make sense, you’ll understand why these strategies are so important.
Starting with the Basics
One of the best strategies for your writing is pulling the reader in at the very beginning of the story. It is easy to understand why, if you don’t catch the reader’s attention in the first few paragraphs, you risk losing them forever. This is why you should always have a very strong opening sentence – a sentence that captures their attention immediately and makes them anxious to find out what happens next.
Other tips and strategies that make your writing a real winner include:
- Make the writing authentic and real. Don’t assume to be an expert at what you’re writing about; instead, just write from your heart.
- Don’t forget to make an outline. Outlines help you remember to include important details in your story or document, and they help you stay organized and structured.
- Make your dialogue a way to help the story progress. Think about your own conversations with others, and use those as a starting point to write great dialogue.
- Use the adage, “show, don’t tell”. Instead of merely stating that a certain character is angry, for example, show that character’s anger in his/her voice, actions, and behavior.
- Make your visualizations strong. Since your story likely won’t be published with illustrations, use graphic visualizations so that readers get certain pictures in their minds.
- Remember that everything you write about has to be clearly written. You don’t want readers to misunderstand what you’re saying, or worse, have no clue what you’re writing about.
- Finally, make sure you are writing because you want to; hopefully, because you want to have fun.
Not only does the first sentence have to capture the readers, the first paragraph or two must do the same. Lure them in with the very first sentence, and continue that train of thought into the first several paragraphs. Give the readers a sense of direction; in other words, build them up for what is going to happen next, and give them a few subtle hints as to what that is.
You should also act like your readers are right there next to you as you write the story. Don’t be insincere with your writing, but let it flow naturally and honestly. Readers aren’t dumb. They can spot insincerity and fakeness a mile away, and they will always respond negatively – usually by not reading any more of the story.
Knowing Who Your Readers Are Is the First Step
Whether you’re writing a novel, a magazine article, or a business document, you have to first consider who your readers will be to keep those readers’ attention. There are numerous writing strategies to adhere to depending on what you’re writing, but if you don’t consider who your readers are first, you’ll never be able to move forward from there. If you’re writing an article for a magazine or even a blog, here are some additional details to remember:
- Make sure the writing is timely. If the subject you’re writing on is one that is currently in the headlines, you can write it from a different angle. If it is an old topic, you can present it in a new and modern way.
- Blogs and magazine articles do well with a lot of pictures and graphics, so include them in your piece as often as you can.
- Consider what your audience needs, wants, and will be looking for when they conduct an online search for your article or blog. Then, make sure you give them that.
- Even with short articles and blogs, treating them like you’re telling a story is a smart rule to follow. It makes them flow a lot easier and sits well with the audience.
- Ask your readers questions to pique their interest in what you’re going to write about next. It gets your readers thinking and makes them appreciate your response.
- The use of quotes is smart for many reasons. Quotes help break up the text, and they do a great job when you want to emphasize something.
- Make sure your topic is relevant and centers around something that is popular in today’s culture.
- Slip some interesting and lesser-known facts and data into the story to keep it interesting.
- Consider writing the blog or article as if it were a test or quiz; for example, “how to tell if you are grammatically adept.”
All of these tips force you to take your audience into consideration before you even start writing, and knowing who your audience is will go a long way to effective writing every time. Knowing who your readers are is always the first step to making sure your article or blog gets read after it’s published.
Strategies for the Entire Process of Writing
Writing is a process, and it can usually be divided into three main sections: getting ideas for the article or book, organizing and structuring the writing, and revising and editing the document. To become a better writer, you have to write as often as you can. There is no other way to accomplish being a better writer, and even if you make mistakes along the way, they are going to be beneficial in teaching you what you need to know to improve your writing skills.
If you’re just getting started with an article or blog, it may be difficult to determine exactly what you should write about, but not to worry. There are many writing strategies that can help you come up with the perfect topic, and they include the following:
- Consider writing about something you love, or even something you hate.
- You can write about things you have to do, versus things you love to do and which are fun.
- Consider writing about past experiences that were very unusual or out of the ordinary.
- You can write about things you’ve done that you are proud of, or even things you regret.
The best part about tips such as these is the fact that they can be used over and over again, because it is doubtful that you will only come up with only one example when using any of these strategies. After all, there are dozens of things you love to do and dozens of things you’ve done that you’re proud of, so using these strategies more than once works perfectly for any writing assignment.
Of course, the above strategies work for certain types of writing; for example, articles, blogs, and even short stories, but what about other types of writing, such as research papers? Different types of writing will require different strategies, and for writing that is centered around research on a specific topic, some of the strategies you can use include:
- Make sure you know more than the average person about the topic. You don’t have to have a doctorate in the subject, but you need to know enough about it to be somewhat of an authority on the subject matter.
- Make sure the topic isn’t too broad. You should always narrow down the topic to a manageable level so that you’re only writing about a certain aspect of it, which gives you more of a chance to gain the expertise you need to write the paper.
- Make sure you know the audience. Yes, this is a recurring theme with writing strategies, but that is only because it is so important. You simply must know who you are writing to before you put the first word down on paper.
- Choose a subject that most people don’t have answers to or know a lot about. After all, writing a research paper on something that is already familiar to most people isn’t quite as effective as presenting the audience with information they didn’t know.
- Choose the correct format for your paper. If you’re going to give a presentation to a group of people, consider using slides or graphics that enhance what the paper has to say. Personalize the paper to the type of presentation you’ll be using when you present your findings.
- Always answer specific questions in a research paper. Include those questions in the beginning of the paper, and the audience will look forward to having the answers by the time the paper is concluded.
Research papers allow you to become somewhat of an expert. This is because to write the paper, you have to know a lot about the subject matter. In fact, this is what makes writing a research paper exciting, even if you know a lot about the topic, there are still going to be things you learn that you didn’t know before you started the paper.
Effective Strategies When You’re Having Trouble Getting Started
With writing, sometimes getting started is the hardest part, even after you’ve already decided on the topic or subject matter. Below are some tips and suggestions to consider using when you’re staring at a blank piece of paper or computer screen and need a nudge to get started:
- Practice freewriting exercises. Simply put fingers to computer keyboard or pen to paper and start writing. If your mind is blank, write anyway. Write for a solid five minutes or more, and don’t stop writing until your time is complete. Then, you can look at what you’ve written to get some ideas.
- Write one section of the story at a time, perfect it, then move onto the next section. It doesn’t mean this will necessarily be your only editing of the sections, but try to make each section as perfect as possible before moving to the next one.
- This strategy is the opposite of the previous one, because you will be writing each section and thinking of them as drafts. Afterwards, you can go back and fill in the details of each section one at a time, until the paper is complete.
Many strategies are very focused and some what rigid, but the above strategies are a little looser and allow you to personalize your writing style so that you can be productive each time you sit down and write. You can even mix and match the strategies if you like, or use part of one of the strategies and develop your own strategies for becoming a successful writer.
Essay Writing 101: Strategies for Making Your Essay a Success
If you’ve been tasked with writing an essay, you’ll likely need some strategies to make it a success. One of the main suggestions for writing a great essay is to stick to the subject matter. As a writer, it may be tempting to stray from the topic and write about things that are similar, but this can cause the essay to sound disjointed and unorganized.
In addition to this very important tip, here are a few others that will help you write the perfect essay:
- Keep in mind that an essay has a specific motive or purpose. You aren’t just writing about something you’ve read about or researched; instead, you are taking an original idea and making a great case for it.
- Think of an essay like a thesis that you have to come up with, then defend. Even if the topic is something rather common and familiar to people, you have to find a way to highlight what is unique about it.
- Always review evidence that could be used to argue against the points you’re making, and be proactive by addressing those arguments directly in your essay.
- Remember that at the center of your essay is one thing: persuasion. You are writing the essay to persuade your readers to agree with you on the subject matter and on the main point of the essay.
- Make sure your essay is organized and structured, and that it answers the questions your readers are likely to have.
- Remember that your essay should never be vague or confrontational, and it should never be simply a question that needs to be answered or a list of facts or details. It should be clear and concise and have a definite purpose and goal.
Essays should also have a very clear beginning, middle section, and ending, and those sections should transition smoothly from one to the other. Don’t overdo it on the summary, and make sure the order you use makes sense and is logical. Developing an outline before you get started can help you avoid a lot of the pitfalls in essay writing.
There are also other writing strategies that are extremely helpful when you are writing an essay. These include the following:
- Never skimp on research. Research is what is needed to prove your argument.
- Decide which angle you want to use before you start writing.
- Think of writing as cyclical; write a bit on each section until the end of the essay, then go back to the first section and write or revise as needed.
- Try to envision different ways to present your information. Make note cards on the main points and look for groupings of themes or certain patterns to help you decide how to get started.
The flow of your essay and the style and voice you use are all important, and to get it right, you need to be organized. Once again, writing an outline can help you with any problem areas or difficulties you might be having because above all else, outlines keep you on track so that you know the process is moving along the way that it should.
What About Other Types of Writing?
As a writer, you likely don’t just stick to a certain type of writing. Chances are good that you are interested in writing essays, blogs, magazine articles, and short stories or novels. Many writers participate in more than one type of writing, and there are pertinent strategies for each of these genres, and even some that apply to all of the genres. Basic writing skills are developed with a lot of practice, and by following strategies that include the following:
- Always write regularly. After all, the only way to become a good writer is to write!
- Set time goals for your assignments, but be realistic about them and revise when necessary.
- If you have a long assignment, writing each section at a time will likely work best in the long run.
- Write in a location or spot that allows for the most productivity; only you know where that spot is.
- Always take breaks while you’re writing. This is the best way to refresh yourself and increase your level of creativity.
- Always write at a time of day when you are at your best.
While some people do their best writing while lying on the sofa, most writers find that having an office, or at least a desk, that is there just for them, keeps them in a better frame of mind to write. Once you establish a routine and a specific place to write, ideas will naturally flow much better. In addition, whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, it is always best to write when you feel your most productive.
When Writing the Next Great Novel
Novels, of course, require a brand new set of strategies because this is a unique genre that isn’t learned overnight. All writers of fiction picture themselves on the best selling authors’ list, but even if this never happens to you, it is still possible to write a great novel that catches people’s attention. Without sounding like a broken record, it is good to start off with a roadmap or outline, because this will save you a lot of time in the long run and keep your writing more organized and structured.
In addition to the outline, there are many other things that will help you stay focused while you’re working on your novel and make it more interesting, and these include:
- Consider adding conflict to your story. The main character should always want something, and the readers will stay interested because they’ll want to know if he/she gets it in the end.
- When you’re revising or editing the chapters, do them in layers. In other words, proofread the first time for typos and grammatical areas, the second time to catch any inconsistencies in scenes or characters, and so on.
- Make sure each scene adds something to the story. Consider these add-ons the heartbeats of the scene, and a way to add a little more tension or conflict to the story.
Keeping your writing organized and structured, even in a light-hearted novel, is crucial because if there is no structure or organization to the story, readers will notice immediately and become confused. They may even stop reading, which is something you never want. If you’re having trouble completing a novel and your goal is to have one ready by a certain time, there are some things you can do to complete the novel and make sure the word count is high enough in the end.
First, make sure you have minor themes and characters in your story, but don’t let them overpower the main themes and characters. Readers love being introduced to new characters and plots along the way, because it keeps the story a lot more interesting.
Second, although it is good to have a goal, remember that a steady pace is better than trying to write too fast, because the latter never produces good results. Finally, don’t give up. Even if you’re writing a story and miss the deadline to enter it in that contest you’ve been eyeing, keep writing until the story is finished.
What Do the Experts Recommend?
Of course, if you wish to be a great writer, it is good to pay attention to the advice coming from those who have already been published. After all, these people must’ve done something right or they wouldn’t have a book in the bookstores. Below are just some of the recommendations made by well known and successful writers:
- Keep a notebook with you at all times, because you never know when you’ll come up with an idea that you can turn into a story.
- Start with a question, then try to answer that question through your writing.
- When you start writing your novel, don’t think about the total word count or you’ll feel overwhelmed; think of the story as one you should write about in sections.
- Read, read, read – all the time.
- Write at the same time and location every day. Make it a part of your everyday life.
- Consider writing the last page of your novel first, because it may give you ideas on how to write the rest of it.
- Write every day, even if it is just a letter or a note to yourself or someone else.
- When you have ideas screaming to get out, stop what you’re doing and go write about them.
- Each chapter should end with a bang so that readers will be anxious to read the next one.
- Once you’re finished with a novel, don’t go back and try to edit it or add to it. Just leave it alone.
- Don’t overdo it on the adverbs.
- If you’re stuck and don’t know what to write next, start writing as if you’re writing to someone close to you.
If you read enough tips and recommendations from published authors, you’ll start to notice a pattern. Almost all of them include the fact that you should read as much as possible, write every day, and stay organized with your writing. Basic grammar and spelling are also important to learn, as is having a definite beginning, middle, and end to your story.
There is also a lot to be said for not using long or complicated words. Remember, if the readers have to look up a word you’ve written, then it shouldn’t be there. Your writing should always be clear and easy to understand. You also have to make your readers feel like they are a part of the story, which is accomplished once you become an experienced writer.
Advice for Beginning Writers
If you’re a beginning writer, the writing strategies you need are a little different than those for more experienced writers. If you’re just starting to learn to write, the two most important strategies involve reading as much as possible in your genre, and reading as much as possible regarding the art of writing. These two things cannot be understated, because they will teach you as much about writing as you’ll learn from writing on your own.
In addition, beginning writers should:
- Decide how they want to write. You can create an outline and follow that, or you can just start writing.
- Remember that in storytelling, three things are important: conflict, desire, and stakes. If you don’t include these three things in your writing, it may sound haphazard and disorganized.
- Learn to develop the scene, which describes the conflict, and the sequel, which can be considered the glue that binds two scenes together.
- Learn to accept constructive criticism, because this is the best way to learn when you’ve forgotten or overlooked something important.
- Learn to put the book aside once it’s finished. Otherwise, your desire to edit and change the story will never cease to exist.
You also have to have a love of writing to be successful at it. If you’re working on a project and simply dread facing your computer each day, you’re likely either writing in the wrong genre, or you don’t like writing as much as you thought you did. Only someone who loves to write has a chance to be successful at it, so you should consider this aspect before you write down your first word.
Some Final Thoughts
Writing with honesty and clarity is important, and the most important tip for success includes making sure you write consistently. There is no other way around it. Keep in mind that even published authors have moments of self doubt and experience writer’s block. The main suggestion for these and other problems is to keep on writing, and don’t let anything someone else says or does stop you from doing so.