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How to Write an Article
By Jeff Davidson MBA, CMC
Writing an effective, thought-provoking article requires paying close attention to established guidelines plus injecting a healthy dose of individual creativity. This article will cover five basic areas used by many writing professionals, including: prewriting, freewriting, preparing the first draft, revising and editing.
Prewriting is the stage where an idea or topic is hatched. Your topic may come in a flash or be the result of oscillation between various topics. In any case, prewriting requires time. If you attempt to jump into a topic without giving it careful thought, you're liable to convey to your readers just that - you didn't think very much about the topic.
After exploring possible topics, choose an aspect, an angle, a slice that you can manage. Then, ask yourself questions about the topic. What are the key issues? What angle has not been explored? How do those affected feel about the situation? The more questions you can generate, the better. The questions help you to better focus your efforts. During prewriting, read and talk about your topic to others. Be a sponge for your topic.
By now, a basic question will emerge that enables you to identify a key issue. Ask yourself the question, "What is this like?" For example, if you've decided to write about the effects of worldwide competition on opening your own athletic shoe manufacturing plant, "What is it like?" could be: "like a ECHHS football player being dropped into the middle of a college bowl game." If a phrase or sentence captures the central focus of your topic, use it, play with it.
What is freewriting? It is plunging in and writing to capture your thoughts thus far. By writing rapidly without worrying about organization or content, you can easily generate or capture additional thoughts about your topic and help to establish or refine your thesis statement. A well chosen thesis statement energizes and focuses your entire article, and makes the reader's job easier. Freewriting also aids you in finding your tone. Will you be witty or serious? Conservative or bold? Accusative or nurturing? Whatever you choose, the tone in your thesis statement and body of the article should match.
3) Preparing the First Draft
Organize or list the points you developed during prewriting and freewriting. How will you present them: chronologically? Or in a cause and effect order, ascending or descending order, or some other method? Next, make an outline of your points, keeping the reader's interest, education and possible feelings about the topic in mind.
Although you may wish to avoid revising, don't. You must reexamine "the big picture" and carefully refine, tighten, and improve your work. Have you established and maintained a tone? Should you re-assess or reconsider any of your points?
Every sentence must be vital, focused, balanced, and economical. Vary sentence lengths. Check spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Use active verbs. Remember, your readers have work to do; help them all you can. Check each sentence carefully. If useful, read them aloud. Tie all loose ends. Eliminate jargon and unclear words. Trim the fat; if a word or phrase can be eliminated, it probably should be.
After extensive editing, read your article again! Catch any last glitches. Ensure that your final copy adheres to established rules of grammar and style. Then relax and send it in.