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    Six Rules of Article Structuring - Break a Rule and you can Write a Really Good Article

    Reporters use a writing technique that forces them to organize their thoughts, forces them to write as fast as they can think, and results in brief, easy to read articles. You can do this too even if you can't type and I'll prove it to you.

    While doing research, write each complete idea in a single paragraph of one to three sentences on a 3x5 notecard. (Think of each idea represented on a notecard as being one paragraph needed to tell a complete news story). Arrange all the notecards in a row from top to bottom in the order of each's importance. When you see a paragraph that needs more explanation (leaves an unanswered question), insert a card or two. Just enough to answer the question.

    Congratulations, you've just written your first "hard news story". Now tell spouse, secretary or offspring to type it.

    Reporters ask themselves questions as they write: "Is this item of information more important than the others? Does it deserve its own paragraph? Before I go on to the next item - have I provided enough explanation to answer all my readers' questions?" Reporters literally finish the story at the same time that they run out of questions to ask themselves.

    The basic questions "who, what, when, where and how" are answered in the first paragraph which can have no more than two sentences. Before any new information is introduced, the writer answers any questions he thinks the reader might have. Then he goes on to present another item of information.

    To see how this works, read an article that starts on the first page of today's newspaper. You will find that the most important items in the article are presented on the first page. The part of the article that is continued to the next page contains details of lesser importance. (Just like you arranged the notecards in order of importance from top to bottom).

    This method is called "the inverted pyramid style". Envision a pyramid standing on its point rather than its base. The broadest most important information is presented first. Detailed questions are answered. Then less important items are introduced, and further questions answered, if necessary.

    By presenting the most important information first, the article can be shortened to a specified length. In the old days, the editor would yell: "Give me an eleven inch story". The reporter would type (double-spaced) exactly 22 inches of news. Then the editor would change his mind: "make it nine inches". The reporter would take a pair of scissors and a ruler and do exactly that.

    Cutting off four inches (double spaced) would not affect the content that much. The most important information was in the first few inches of copy. All else was detailed information.

    After you write a few inverted pyramid stories, you'll learn to read your notes, then organize them in your head. Speed becomes automatic. You'll find nothing fills up a blank page faster than an inverted pyramid.

    Copyright © James Lessenberry

    James Lessenberry is a former journalist and legal investigator. Please go to http://www.wealthfunnel.com/thirdpaycheck and sign up for the free newsletter. It's dedicated to helping individuals form business and ezine publishing joint ventures.

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ



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