Being an editor doesn’t make me an authority in writing. I’m sharing this information from the perspective of a reader.
As an avid reader, I can tell how an article makes me tick, and why? This is the premise in which I start all of my writing. I hope it works for you too.
1. Why is this story Interesting?
Start your writing by asking yourself the above question. A good write up may not necessarily always be beneficial or even informative. But it certainly connects, triggers your emotion and touches your soul. For the lack of any tangible benefit, does your writing at least give your readers the pleasure of reading?
If you can’t convince yourself that your article is interesting, choose a topic you’re passionate about. Tell the story as if you’re talking to your best friend. Passion radiates!
Part of what makes a story interesting has a lot to do with the packaging of the essay. I.e the Headline, the Picture and the Length of the article – do not neglect these simple but crucial elements.
2. How is the article Relevant?
The way I define relevance is – whether or not it matters to me. The fuel inflation in China, although has an important long term social economic implication to me and my business, is less relevant than the discount of my favorite Haagen Daaz Choc Chips Ice Cream in Supa Save.
Help your readers to identify, why your writing matters to them?
3. Does this article Validate my thinking?
It’s counter intuitive to learn that most people often read the same genre of books a majority of the time. If the whole purpose of reading is to learn new things and to stretch yourself, there would be more people reading a more diverse range of topics. I guess what makes reading a pleasure is that you can choose what you want to read and to validate what you already know. Therefore, when you write, remember that it is less important to be unconventional than to be validating.
4. How would the essay Change me?
A good article is one that triggers a brand new perspective to the way you see things. A great article is one that prompts you to take action. If in doubt, choose Great.
5. How is the story Beneficial?
Before investing time on reading, I often ask myself, how would this article save me time and money? Secondly, how would the knowledge help me to impress my peers?
It certainly helps to make me look smarter, if I have the information privy to myself. In the age of technology, this is purely utopia thinking.
The next best thing to having exclusivity to information is to have a timely access to the latest information. If you’re a stockbroker, you would appreciate the importance of this.
Being the first to know or talk about your industry’s breakthrough moves you forward in your standing as an authority in your field.
6. What is so Unique about your Story?
Part of what makes a story interesting is it’s uniqueness. However, it takes a whole other level of expertise and introspection to see the same thing differently. This is exactly what makes Malcolm Gladwell, Malcolm Gladwell. The ability to see ‘What the dog saw!’, and of course the ability convey the story well!
7. Is the writing easy to Understand?
I envy those people gifted with a masterful set of vocabulary and flowery descriptions with their writing. (*Good command of English is a result of years of discipline, effort and commitment. It has nothing to do with gift – did I use the word: Envy?)
My shortfall in this is made up by my relentless effort to translate things with clarity and simplicity. A part that I can control by fine tuning, and fine tuning some more.
If you can’t express well, at least do not clutter the message with jargons.
8. Are you telling me something I Don’t already know?
Need I elaborate?
9. What is the Story behind the Story?
To me, the juiciest bit about any story is often the author’s commentary and observations from behind the scenes and the small talks they have in between. What makes a writer great is his or her genuine interest about the subject. Listen hard enough and ask more questions, and you’d always find the story behind the story!
10. How do you keep your readers wanting for More?
This is a disciplinary approach. To keep the readers in suspense, you’d need to know when to shut up and what to eliminate. Without being an expert, I learned the same theory from dating too.
One more thing! Treat your readers with the due intellectual respect and they’d return the favor!
This article is dedicated to my colleague, Greg, who worked tirelessly with me throughout the challenging endeavor in BHC. May you write better than I could ever do. Deb, who ALWAYS make me look much better than I am (with ALL my writings). Azeem, who packages the articles in BHC in masterful fashion. And to my Shifu, Paul Mcnamara who taught me the rules of: Interesting, Relevance and Beneficial for publishing. I stole this for my individual writings. Oops!