Castle Door

Three Rules

Have you noticed how often I use three things as the number of things on a list? Three is a lucky number for me, but it also allows you to keep two lists in your head with a hook left over.  (And if you have no clue what I'm talking about, you aren't reading these pages in order. tsk! tsk!)

Begin at the Beginning

There is an old rule of writing that always makes me smile.  It says: "Begin at the beginning, and when you come to the end, stop."  If that's the way you write, then you are not using the three rules of effective writing.

The Three Rules

The three rules of writing are the same as the three rules for giving an effective speech:

  1. Tell them what you are going to tell them.
  2. Tell them.
  3. Tell them what you told them.

Too simple?

1.  Tell them what you are going to tell them.

This is the hook to the fish.  This first part gets them interested in spending the time to read the rest of the article.  It also serves to focus the writer because this is the point of your writing and if you don't fulfill this promise, you aren't finished writing yet.

2.  Tell them.

Now you get to the meat and potatoes of the information you are presenting to your readers.  Show some enthusiasm for your subject!  Be passionate, be articulate, be human, be yourself.

Be sure your reader doesn't get lost and doesn't feel like you stopped talking directly to them.  Use lots of examples to be sure your reader is staying with you and doesn't get lost because they didn't understand some term you used.

Don't insult them.  Don't talk down to them.  Treat them like a friend.  Remember what I said about writing a letter to your friend?  Here's where you write that letter.

3.  Tell them what you told them.

This is the part people forget.  They have covered what they were writing about and they just stop.

I have a friend on the 'net that was writing an article and she had done a wonderful job of painting this glorious mental picture for her readers in the beginning of the article, and then moved on to explaining in detail the main points of her article.  She wanted to know how to end the article, and I told her the three rules, just as I'm telling you now.

She went back to that image she had created in their minds and expanded it.  She made it very special.  How she made it special was to apply all the things that she had just explained in the article to the opening image she had painted.  It was a lasting impression that to this day I can see in my mind's eye.

Sum up for them why they spent the time reading what you wrote.  Explain to them that because they spent the time reading they learned something valuable.  Tell them what that was.

To Sum This Up

Effective writing is when you have given your reader something new they could learn, done it in a positive tone, and used mental pictures they can retain in their minds.  Now to apply what I taught you, I return you to the scene where we began this journey ...

You pat the dragon, who has by now become an old friend, and pull on your sweater to ward off the night chill as you walk away from the warmth of the fire.  Your visit with the lady of the castle has ended and it's time to go.

Your footsteps echo off the stone floor as you descend the stairs and exit by the Main Castle Gate.  As the door scrapes closed behind you, you hear her call ...

Thank you for stopping by!


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