What is good writing?
Writing is effective and purposeful when it conveys to the readers what the writer wants to say. While this sounds easy, but writing clear and logical text is not just furiously tapping away at the keyboard. For readers to get interested in an article and grasp its message, the writer has to be systemic and organized, apart from having a great command over the language.
Writing a logical text becomes all the more important if you are writing for an online audience. Thanks to the global reach of the Internet, people of different cultures, age groups, and reading proficiency read your work. Hence, you need to do a great deal of thinking before and during writing. Let us elaborate on different aspects to consider if you want your writing to hit the mark.
Know Your Target Audience
Knowing your target audience is necessary to write a lucid article that conveys the intended message. The topic you select, the words you choose, the supporting images you add- all depends on who your readers are.
Take into account the familiarity of the readers with the subject matter. For instance, when it comes to blogging, health and fitness is a very popular niche. But the topics of interests are vastly different for regular folks and athletes. Ordinary people are more interested in weight management and improving their appearance. Athletes like to know how to improve their performance in their specific sport. You also have to adapt your writing style; you have to simplify fitness concepts for regular people, while it’s fine to use jargon if you are writing for athletes.
The more you know your target audience, the better it is!
If you are writing for a global audience or readers based in another country, be mindful of the cultural differences and linguistic abilities. What may be acceptable in your society might come as shock to people from another culture. Keep the writing simple and well-structured so that non-native readers of the language can grasp it too.
Prepare An Outline
People often imagine writers as dreamy creatures who let their minds wander the realms of imagination. This might hold true for poets and playwrights, but writers who cater to an online audience have to be alert and organized. If you are a writer creating content for businesses, you are likely to be limited by word count, and you have some pre-decided objectives to fulfill.
It’s better to prepare an outline and decide the sub-topics and other finer details before you start writing. Follow the same strategy works for blogs and longer content; it will help you stick to your desired message, and give a proper structure to the text.
Write Well-structured Text
The internet is saturated with blog posts and written content. So how do readers separate the wheat from the chaff? One might say that readers have to be enticed with provoking titles. But the audience has now become vary of click-baits. Most individuals open a link and scroll down through the subtitles and images, and then decide if they want to read the entire text or move on to something else.
This is why the structure of the text is vital in holding the audience’s interest. There are few points to consider that improves readability of your text and encourages the audience to stay on the page-
- Start with an introduction, elaborate on the key points in the body, and wrap up the article with a conclusion. While most of us work hard on researching for and writing the main body, we don’t bother much about the opening and the ending.
The first few sentences actually encourage the audience to read more. Create an interesting introduction and tell the readers what you are about to offer in the main body. End with a clear-cut conclusion that emphasizes the key takeaways of your write-up; it makes the readers feel rewarded for investing their time into reading.
- Online readers have a short attention span. But that doesn’t mean that the days of long blogs and well-researched articles are over. The audience would be happy to read more if you don’t beat around the bush and offer insights in each paragraph. Write long only when you have something relevant to share. Rather than spinning content, focus on researching your topic well. Explore new perspectives on the topic, or reach out to experts or professionals for an interview.
Stay On Your Track!
Writing logically means communicating effectively. Budding writers are often tempted to explain everything under the sun to their readers. Being informative is great, but stuffing in many ideas can be counter-productive. If you are writing a story, having many sub-plots or too many characters would make it difficult to understand. No reader wants to keep scrolling back to figure out what you are trying to say or figure out where the story is heading!
You must stick to the topic, and control the urge to elaborate on related topics in the same text. For informative articles, break down complex themes into simple topics, and write separate articles on each topic. Likewise, elaborate on one point in a paragraph, and change the paragraph to start the subsequent point.
Mind The Chronology
‘I came, I saw, I conquered.’ These words of the Roman emperor Julius Caeser perfectly sum up his indomitable spirit, and also the importance of chronology in writing. One can never ‘conquer first’ and ‘come later’!
If you want your text to make sense to readers, do not deviate from chronology. Whether its facts or fiction, people tend to get confused if you don’t write the events in the order of their occurrence; your narrative must establish a timeline for the readers to understand the bigger picture.
Chronology makes the cause and effect relationship between events understandable. It is important not just for writing historical accounts or news reports, but also for science articles and research papers, grievances etc. Chronology is also useful for writers who write how-to-guides, recipes, etc. It also lends credibility to the writer, as a writer who goes too much back and forth comes across as confused and unintelligent.
To establish a timeline, you can arrange the subheadings in the sequence of their occurrence. If you are describing a process, maintain the correct sequence of steps. Use transition words like ‘first’, ‘then’, ‘later’, etc., especially in shorter pieces for making the chronology evident for the readers.
Mobile-Optimize Your Writing
People are consuming more content on portable devices like smartphones and tablets. They are checking out their social media while waiting on the bus stop or going through blogs while commuting on the subway. If the website takes too long to load, and big blocks of text occupy the screen, the reader is likely to be put off.
If you are in charge of a website or a blog, make sure that it is optimized for viewing on mobile phones. Use short and solid subheadings to organize your text. Prefer to break down your text in small paragraphs; limit a paragraph to three to four sentences. Using lists is another great idea to make your writing more understandable. Avoid overly complicated sentence, or words that average readers are not likely to understand.
Utilize Infographics and Images
An article with chunks of text and nothing else comes across as boring and tedious to read. By adding suitable images, you can pique the interest of the readers. Put up a feature image for each blog post on your website to a character to the post. Use suitable images in the main text body. Also, use infographics to highlight interesting statistics or key takeaways of your article.
Share Examples and Anectodes
Your ideas become clearer to the reader when you share relevant examples with them. Blogs and long articles could be enriched with real life stories, experiences, or testimonials. For informative posts, you can add a section of ‘frequently asked questions’ to clarify the common doubts that might crop up in the readers’ minds.
Spellcheck and Proofread!
There is no valid excuse for a writer to make typographical or grammatical errors, given the many spelling and grammar check tools available. Such tools also help you modify your text for an audience who follows another variant of your language. If you are a native American writer but you wrote something for British readers, you can change the language to ‘UK English’ in your spellcheck tool and change the American spellings with the British ones.
Apart from checking spelling and grammar using software, you should also proofread your work. This will ensure that your text is concise and conforms to the outline you had set in the beginning.
A writer on the internet seldom writes just for the love of the craft. Most of us are writing purposefully. If you are into content marketing, that purpose could be to sell a product or service by pointing out its benefits to the readers. If you are writing informative articles, you want to establish your website as the go-to place for resources on the topic. We just don’t the audience to read, we want to give them a call to action. Hence, it is important to reflect and understand how to make your writing more logical and coherent; it’s every bit worth the effort!