Every piece of writing that is judged to be good must have these four cardinal factors; otherwise the writing will fall flat regardless of its intended purpose. Remember the intent of your writing should be to inform, instruct, entertain, solve a problem or show how to achieve a goal or objective. Always write for your target audience and not the internet or the search engines. When you connect to your audience, the rewards come back to you. The four factors are: Expression, Content, Organization and Mechanical Accuracy.
Expression: This is how you project your writing for the world to see, read and evaluate. Good writing is a craft. That’s why writers are called wordsmiths. A picture may be more than a thousand words but it also takes words to create pictures in your reader’s mind. This is the first factor that attracts audience to your writing just as bees are attracted to nectar. You may have heard that you must write to express and not to impress. Don’t write for ego; write for your audience with clarity and simplicity–so that everybody can understand your perspective and subject matter. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Expression is an art form. You must use your words to connect and create vivid images in your reader’s mind. People only apply what they understand. It all boils down to your choice of words, style, personality and overall thinking process. You must use powerful words and emotional triggers. Eliminate boring adverbs and dangling modifiers as much as you can. Use active verbs instead of helping verbs or adjectives. Active verbs make your writing to be more alive and dynamic. Realize that movement generates pleasure. Use active voice rather than passive voice. Thus expression is not just what you say but how you say it. However, what you say is also important.
Content: This is the factor that separates the mediocre from the masters. “Either you write something worth reading or you do something worth writing,” said Benjamin Franklin. Content is the substance and the essence of your writing. In short, content is the heart-beat of any great writing. It is the value you brought to the marketplace. People are value and quality shoppers. They want the best for the least amount of money. You have heard it said that in the internet, content is king. The story is the same everywhere. Content is the quality of the material you put out. This has to do with the key benefits the readers will extract from your writing to solve their problems or achieve their goals. As a writer, you must always ask yourself: “how can my writing solve problems or change lives?” A good writing that sells itself is writing with great content. Search engines love content. Therefore, put out good content that people love and seek. Then the search engines will locate you naturally and people will seek your offers. Let your content be fresh and original instead of recycled materials that flood the internet. Content is what search (and research) is all about. Having said that, you must also know how to arrange and organize your content so that the information is readable and digestible.
Organization: One of the most difficult things about writing is how to organize and arrange your thoughts. “Most writings are a few good thoughts drifting about in a sea of words,” said Jamie Buckingham. Organization is a product of coherence and consistency. How does your thoughts flow logically as in a flower? One idea must lead and link to the next. To be consistent, you need style manual as a guide. Therefore, try to plan your writing. Outline the key points or bare bone essentials you may want to develop before you put the flesh as you go. Let each paragraph contain a theme or one main idea. The flesh can be the description, examples or anecdotes to buttress your points. Organization is a process. It comes with practice, experience and writing intuition. You get better as you keep on writing. Formatting is a very important part of your organization. Arrange information in chunks.
That’s how the human brain process information. That’s why it’s called bites and bytes. Formatting is about headings, paragraphing, bullets, lists, typography, lines and spacing to create visual appeal for your readers. You don’t need to be a graphic artist to develop a good sense of organization. Did you notice that majority of HTML tags are formatting tags? Any good content and expression can fall flat without good formatting–it is a key part of your organization. The best way to learn this art is to glean from other good writings. After trial and success, it comes together with practice. Either you keep writing or you become a write-off. My watch word is: “Persistent practice prevents poor performance.” The more you write the better you grow as a writer. Practice does not make perfect; practice makes improvements and improvements make perfect.
Mechanical (Technical) Accuracy: This is fancy way of saying that your writings should be free of errors. Mechanical Accuracy is the Achilles tendon of most writers. They worry too much about the difference between colon and semi colon–causing paralysis analysis. This is the key reason why many people dread writing. Mechanical accuracy has to do with your typographical errors, spelling, punctuation and syntax. This is why you must have your writing tools: spell checkers, dictionary, encyclopedia and other reference materials. Remember that no writing is readable until it is free of errors. It is also a smart idea to give your writing to someone else to proofread and edit because of human factors. Overall most good writers are made in rewriting. The key lies in the principle of the 3Rs: revise, review and rewrite.
Your writing process is like preparing a good meal. All four ingredients must be present in your recipe before you create a balanced food for thought.