Three writing tips that will never let you down

When we observe the following three rules for writing, many other sins are forgiven.

So what are those rules?

  1. Make your reader care in your opening paragraph.
  2. Never give your reader a reason to say, ‘so what?’
  3. Make sure that everything in your piece is relevant and adds to the story.

So let’s deal with each of these points individually.

  1. Make your reader care or curious in your opening paragraph.

A reader who cares continues reading. A curious reader also continues reader. Does this apply only to fiction writing? No. It applies to anything you write. Even if you are writing about something the reader might be ambivalent about, you still need to evoke an emotional response. Snakes, for example, don’t do anything for me but if someone wrote an opening sentence that went, ‘I cut the venomous snake’s head off and just as I thought I was safe it opened its jaws and clamped down hard on my hand.’

Now I will keep on reading because I am amazed by several things the sentence reveals. The scariest of which is whether the venom in the snake’s head is still dangerous. If it is then I am seriously curious about a lot of things!

 

  1. Never give your reader a reason to say, ‘so what?’

I recently read a short piece of writing. In it the writer said, ‘…it was Thursday, my favourite day of the week. Monday never is.’ The writer never explained why these two days warranted a mention either before or after the statement. So what does a reader say in his or her mind on being told about days the writer likes or dislikes? You’ve got it. ‘So…what?’   Again, regardless of the genre you are writing in you do not want your reader to say, ‘so what?’ at any point.

 

  1. Make sure that every sentence/word is relevant and adds to the story.

Again, this applies to all writing. Writers sometimes think they have to write to a certain word count. If they are short of that limit, they add clichés and unnecessary bits of information.

Consider this.  ‘The beach near where I live was shut all summer because the Council deems it unsafe to swim there.’ A whole piece follows explaining why it is unsafe. Then right in the middle of the article the writer says, ‘For some odd reason I got a chill when I took a quick paddle. The wind had quite a nip in it.’  Really? Is that relevant? Does it relate to the reason the beach is closed? No, because the writer then goes on to tell the reader that after Council  tested the water,  the beach was found to be polluted.

Three writing tips
make your reader care
curious
so what
make words work.