Humans share ideas and feelings using communication skills, which they have obtained throughout their lives. Listening & Reading (+understanding), writing and speaking are the primary modes of communication where We consider listening and reading as input methods, and writing and speaking as output modes. Even though many people can understand what they read or listen, many find it difficult to write and speak.
That is because expressing your ideas verbally or in a written mode requires immense practice, as you should be able to output your thoughts in a correct flow while trying your best to be grammatically correct.
Speaking resides in an entirely different dimension, where you need to concentrate not just on what you say, but also on how you say (such as facial expressions, gestures and voice variations).
Hence, people may think that writing is easier than speaking. However, I see it the other way, as the writer has to achieve everything using his words. Then he has to use an extensive vocabulary and be creative in using them correctly.
This article is about “writing articles” 😉
Writing is an art!
It is all about putting the words in a right way. Imagine a painting. It does not matter you paint on a canvas or paper, use a brush or a pencil, use colors or just a sketch, if you have the skills, you will make a masterpiece.
Well, I’m way below than a master writer. But these are some tips I use when I write.
How to start?
This seems very hard in the beginning, but if you are a creative writer, you can write a whole story or a poem by just watching a leaf fall off a tree. If you are a technical writer, this is not that simple. You should find a topic which the readers will find interesting. Here is what I do.
- Identify the audience
You should first think of the audience that you’re targeting your output. It also depends on the article you’re writing. The audience may differ when you write a poem (and the language as well), a tutorial, news article, philosophical article or a critique/review. You cannot entertain everyone! So entertain your target audience in the maximum way possible.
- Make an outline of the key points
There is a rare chance that you will write a 100% original concept. If you do, no restrictions there. But if you’re writing something which is already out there, which is in most cases, you should try your best to give something which other sources don’t. Try to highlight those key points by being descriptive in those areas. For example, if everybody writes how good a device is, you can focus more on the downfalls of that device.
- Collect the references
Make sure to find and save the references where you have found the facts. Even you have invented something Still, it needs some background knowledge. So, it is highly recommended you to cite the source which you have obtained the information from. And do not copy and paste contents from those sources, unless you’re quoting them. If you quote, make sure you cite them as well. Try your best to rewrite the idea, not the sentence.
Writing the body
Have a good and a catchy opening. If you’re writing about a device or a tool or anything, try to amaze the reader with the best feature it has. It can either be its price, battery life or anything that will catch the reader. Sometimes this opening can be directly connected to your topic.
Then begin your story or the main content. Make sure that you have broken your content into sub-topics, and those headings are informative. Many readers don’t actually read everything in your article unless it is really fascinating! Anyhow, it is advised to break your content into sub-headings which make the reader grasp the message quickly. And make sure your sub-headings are logical selected, and the content underneath is only relevant to its topic. And do not have hundreds of sub-headings, as it will make the article harder to read.
Cross-reference when needed. When you’re writing content in a sub-section, use references to other subsections accordingly. If a reader has missed any point in a previous section, or he feels missing some info while reading the current subsection, cross-referencing will make the reader less tensed by letting him know that your article has all the points which it should.
Do NOT re-write the source
When you’re writing about something, make sure you’re not limited to a single source. I have seen many people, who re-writes a single article and publish as a new one. The downsides of that are;
- You may add false information to your article as you don’t really know the accuracy of a single source.
- If the reader has already read your source, they will immediately recognize that, and the reputation towards you will be lost.
- Readers would love to see that you have done some research before writing something. Then they tend to believe your content and have more probability of getting your article cited.
So, always read multiple sources and try to re-write the gist of them. Do not re-write the same content.
And one important fact you need to remember is, do NOT write too much. The average time a reader would spend on a blog post is 2-4 minutes. So try your best to limit your article to 800 words, unless your article is a tutorial or a research material. But if your article runs for several pages, it is recommended to break them into several articles.
Always use images when it’s required as it will convey your message very easily. Always use high-quality images and resize and align them according to your content. But do not add too many images in the middle of the article, as it may distract the reader and they will miss the contents afterward. If you have a large number of images, add all of them at the end of the article. Then the reader already has gone through the contents, and now they have a choice of looking into the photos if they like.
If you’re adding videos to the article, do not add long videos. It might bore the reader and cause them to close your article immediately.
And try your best to add references to the sources which you obtained the media. We (even me) usually forget to add the references, but at least mention the website you got them.
When you post your article on a website or a blog, it is recommended to include a meta description and some tags. Always write a few sentences for the meta description, and avoid copy and pasting a paragraph from your article itself. But you can use the summary of your article (see below) fo this section.
Read more on metadata in SEO: http://www.practicalecommerce.com/SEO-Why-Is-Metadata-Important
Always use a catchy title! Don’t just give a title for the sake. The title of an article plays a significant role as it is the key feature which a reader decides to click on the link to your article or not. Be creative!
I wrote an article about Xiaomi AmazFit Smartwatch. Instead of simply saying “Xiaomi AmazFit Smartwatch” directly, I used a title as “The best budget smartwatch with 5+ days battery” as the battery life is one of the major concerns in SmartWatches.
I also wrote an article about the downsides of Windows Phone and why I sold it to buy an Android one. I used “Why I broke up” as the title instead of having a typical title such as “Why Windows Phone is bad” or “Why I went back to Android from Windows”.
You have the freedom to select the language you want to write your article. But some people are not thinking enough on this and write in a language which they are comfortable with, which is not good!
If you’re re-writing news, you should first consider the language of the sources. If they are in English, it is recommended to write in another language (ex:. Sinhalese), if you’re trying to translate the news. But it is perfectly okay to write in the same language as the sources if you think that you can write it better, which you should try to do to improve your language.
After you select a language, you should choose the writing style (ex: formal, general reading or informal). This is mostly relevant when you’re writing in a language such as Sinhalese, where there is a huge difference between formal and informal writing. If you’re writing in Sinhalese, I recommend you to write in a middle range style, where you don’t go to either extreme. If you do, there is a higher chance that people won’t understand you.
And if you are translating, do NOT re-write them as it is (I have mentioned this many times now). One of the main reasons is, your sentence will look awkward in the other language because some words and phrases only make sense in that particular language and you will look like a fool if you translate it to another language.
Moreover, don’t try to write everything in Sinhalese in your article. I have seen many people who translate each and every word to Sinhalese, and I’m pretty sure even the writer cannot understand that. You should use English terms where it’s necessary, such as technical terms. Then some people use English words all over the article as it is almost an English article. Don’t do that either. The idea is to make the readers feel comfortable, not you being comfortable!
Regardless of what language use, try your best to be grammatically correct. Because some readers (like me) will find the grammatical and spelling errors so annoying and will lose faith in you. It is not a speech, so you have plenty of time to correct the mistakes.
You can use a Word Processor such as Microsoft Word to check your grammatical and spelling errors. However, I use a nice add-on called Grammarly, which can be integrated with your web browsers and Microsoft Word, which will give you a huge set of suggestions to improve your writing skills. (to learn more, read this article)
Avoid using text files to write your contents, especially when someone else will be reviewing. It will make their life harder and there is no way of getting comments for your mistakes. Always use a tool which has the facility to get comments, such as Google Docs, One Drive or even Microsoft Word.
Always summarize your article! Some people read only the summary of the article as they don’t have time to read the entire article. So, write a summary to your article describing the key points. But don’t make it another article, keep it short and sweet.
I hope you obtained some information about “writing an article” and will help you in even in a small manner. But remember, I’m not a genius writer, so these are according to my experience. So you may have a complete difference approach. Then feel free to share that with me and everyone else.