So you want to write an article, a little something for your local newspaper or maybe a regional or national magazine, but you either can’t come up with an idea (we’ll tackle that in another post) or you don’t think you have the credentials to back you up to get it published.
Not true. All you need to get your article published is a great idea with an even greater hook or angle (again, look for a How to in another post!) and the following: impeccable research; proper format; authoritative writing; and careful proofreading. These are the the four key areas that will make what your writing sound as if you ARE an expert.
RESEARCH IT Research doesn’t have to be hard; it just has to be good. You certainly don’t have to spend hours on end on the Internet or in a library pouring over your subject. First, create a title for your article then Google it. Look through the hits you get and select only those sites that come from reputable sources. Skim through three or four of the top sites and come up with three to five points for your article. Rewrite each one in your own words and NEVER plagiarize.
USE PROPER FORMAT Sloppy writing, just like sloppy research, will kill your chances of getting published. Want to get noticed? Make sure your article has: An introduction, body, and conclusion. These are your foundations.
- Introduction: Keep it short. Get to the point of your article in 50 words or less, then move on.
- Body: Lay out the context of your article, point-by-point. Consider your audience and write to them. A mass market piece shouldn’t talk over their heads. For this audience, take no more than three or four sentences for each point and back up your claims with facts or data.
- Conclusion: End your article with a summary and, this is important, keep your opinions to yourself.
AVOID ADDING FLUFF Get to the point of what you want to say; don’t be wordy! Fluff gives your article a passive tone … the exact opposite of what you want as an “expert” – an authoritative tone. This stye of writing is not only easier to read but it makes a statement, and your readers will react positively to this.
PROOFREAD If you solely rely on spellcheck to check your writing, you are making a HUGE mistake. It won’t catch words spelled correctly but used improperly, i.e. from/form, affect/effect, etc. The most effective way to proof your work: Print it and read it out loud. Your ears will hear any awkward sentences and you’ll probably catch one or two homophone typos or complete mix-ups.
So now you know how to write something that makes you sound like you are the expert: Research your topic. Use proper format. Leave out unnecessary words. And print and proofread by reading out loud … the secrets to writing an engaging article on any topic you choose.