In my last article about writer’s block, I talked about how my ideas for stories or articles sometimes need a little time to take shape in my head. Once they do? I can start writing. And that’s true when I’m writing from experience because then I have a story to tell and the structure of the piece is obvious. It’s less true when I’m writing something that needs to be researched.
As a fiction writer, I know that stories need a beginning, a middle and an end. Blog posts are much the same.
Opening lines are very important. You need to engage your reader in that first sentence, and then lay out in the next couple what it is you’re about to say and why they might be interested in it.
This is where you fulfill the promise of the opening paragraph. Lay out your points in an order that makes sense, great articles have a flow where one point segues nicely into the next. It’s not always possible, but there’s usually a way.
Wrap up what you’ve said, summarise it or bring your piece to a conclusion. Add a call to action, whether that’s encouraging someone to order a product, get in touch or leave a comment on the post itself.
To use a real-life example, last week I wrote an article for a client on how to make an office more productive. I started by making some notes of things I thought would be helpful: Colour, Layout, Efficiency (Time & Motion) and Decluttering. Then I googled to see what others had written on the subject to see if I had missed anything key.
After that I went to my old friend psychology and looked up information as to why these things made a difference to productivity. I also remembered reading about how Google’s office design helped creativity but had a negative impact on productivity, so I checked my memory on that one too.
With that done, I sorted the points I wanted to make into a logical order. Then I wrote it, using the process outlined in this nifty infographic. I’ll add a link to the piece here when it gets published.
And that’s really all there is to it. Structure isn’t a great mystery. It’s just about taking a minute or two before you start writing to get clear on what you want to say, and what the best way to say it might be!