How To Achieve Mediocrity In Writing, Installment #3

Posted: September 7, 2010 in Articles, For Writers

One of the greatest ways to make a story, article or blog post miserable to read is to ramble. Maintain absolutely no focus throughout the writing, and instead spend your time making sure that your article is the longest it can be.

I got a phone call like this earlier today at work. This woman meant well and had nice things to say, but instead of saying them in 20 minutes, she could have gotten her point across in 2 minutes or less. (You know this type of person.) Unfortunately, too many writers do the same thing. But whereas it would have been super rude for me to hang up on the caller, it’s not rude at all for your readers to reject your story once they realize it’s going nowhere — and that’s when they take the opportunity to turn the page or click to the next blog. Here are a few tips to make sure you’re not being “that person.”

Keep it short. This is my No. 1 rule with everything: e-mails, articles, phone calls, novels, conversations. Find the point and spit it out. Ditch the flowery. Give me the meat.

Tailor the message to your reader. Don’t waste the reader’s time with irrelevant diversions that say “Look at how long I can talk!” Make sure the reader knows what he or she is getting and wants to stick with it. If your article is about how to cut flowers, don’t talk about tilling the field. Just cut the flowers.

Even when you’re off track, be on track. You should always tell a story. And if your article is about how to cut flowers, as in the above reference, tell a quick little story or have an introduction that says how Grandma used to do it or what the nice scent means to the nose. So tell the story around the story, but make sure your story relates and gets to the point quickly.

If I may end with a food analogy: Make a perfectly square meal. Have the meat at the center of the plate. Throw in some potatoes, green beans and red peppers for color and interest and flavor. But discard the fat and the hard bits that the diner is going to ditch anyway.

Make your story palatable, and your reader just might stick around for dessert.

–Tyler Reed

Editor, The Sidebar Review

  1. flyinggma says:

    Tyler, I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. There are so many practical ideas to put to work. I especially like your idea about the square meal. It creates a great word picture for the writing process.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s