1. Eliminate vague statements; they convey no meaning … be specific.
Example: Saying a CEO drives up in her “car” says nothing. saying she drives up in her 2014 Torch Red Corvette Stingray tells the reader something about the CEO
2. Quote “experts” – unsubstantiated expressions of opinion carry no conviction.
Note: An expert can range from an academic researcher to a professional in the field to a person who has dealt with the issue being discussed.
3. Support statements with evidence: dates, names, statistics.
Caution: When finding statistics on the Web, double-check their accuracy; and whether they are the most current.
4. Remember the rule of 3’s.
Tell me an anecdote about how this issue affected one family, and I will say. “Maybe that’s an exception.” Add to that another anecdote or a relevant statistic, and I think, “Hmm, maybe you’ve got something there, but I’m not truly convinced I should be concerned.” Add to that another anecdote or another relevant statistic or a quote from an expert, and I say, “Oh, that’s interesting. Tell me more.” But add a fourth statistic or quote or anecdote, and it’s overkill. “All right, already. Enough. I believe you. Let’s get on with this thing!”
5. Use smooth, effective transitions between scenes, anecdotes and points you make. They must move the article along smoothly and rapidly.
6. Use the 5 senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, taste.
7. Cover only one idea per sentence.
8. Keep the tense consistent.
9. Anticipate the reader’s questions and leave non unanswered.
Note: If info the reader will want to know won’t “fit” into the article itself, either due to length restrictions or flow, put it into a sidebar – or if on the Web, try an infogram or other visual information tool.
10. Define … and illustrate your definition.
11. State a premise – and back it up with one or more incidents or anecdotes or quotes or statistics. (See Rule #4 above.)
12. Use the same word twice in a passage only for effect.
13. Keep it tight – no unnecessary words.
What about your “Golden Rules” of writing articles? Can you share any below?