How To Be A Better Writer – Fast

If you’ve been paying attention in class for the past two Thursdays, you should have a pretty good idea of how to write good sentences. Now, let’s look at the big picture.If you want to be successful, you must master two skills:

(1) You must learn how to break complex things down into their individual parts, which we’ll call the Art of Analysis, and (2) you must be able to convince people to do things, a skill we’ll refer to as the Art of Persuasion.

This is something you’re going to hear from me over and over.

Both of these “arts” are necessary for good writing. That’s why the following advice – on how to write a good expository essay – is important, regardless of what you do for a living. You see, expository writing involves both analysis and rhetoric. If you can master the following 10 skills, you can become a strong leader, in business and in your personal life.

Here Are My 10 Rules For Good Writing:

1. The headline must grab your reader’s attention. It can do other things too – such as convey an idea or promise or establish a mood – but it must hook your reader’s interest.

2. The lead (the first few paragraphs, usually) must tell your reader what’s in it for him. It usually does this through a promise. Sometimes, the promise is implied. Less often, it is explicit. But it must be there. You will lose your reader if, after a minute of reading, he is wondering, “Why am I reading this?”

3. Each essay should have one main purpose. It should provoke a single, intended response. That response should be an emotional one. I want my reader to be angry about such and such. I want my reader to understand the problem with such and such.

4. Each essay should contain one main idea. This idea must be (or seem) new and important. And it must be simple enough to summarize in two or three sentences.

5. Every essay should have four legs to stand on: credibility, idea, benefit, and proof.

6. The structure of good writing is NOT linear, but rhetorical. Lead with something that your reader will care about and let that direct the flow of everything that follows. If you stray too far from the central, beneficial concept, you have gone too far. Delete.

7. Density is a must. The quality of good writing is measured by the quantity of new and good ideas or facts it contains. You don’t need to introduce a new fact, figure, or idea with every new paragraph, but you had better introduce one with every other paragraph.

8. Authority is mandatory. Write only about what you know.

9. Preparation is 80% of the game. When you aren’t writing about something you know well, research it until you feel you’re an expert. (See rule #8.)

10. End at the beginning. Leave your reader satisfied. Make sure you have fulfilled the promise you made in the lead. Make sure all your claims have been substantiated.

As I said, these rules apply to all the expository writing you do – which should include your business memos, the notes you write to your friends and family, the speeches and sales presentations you make, and even some casual discussions where you try to get someone to agree with you.

In Future Thursday Class Sessions, I’ll Talk About Other Ways to Be More Persuasive and Analytical.

Eventually you will be able to do all of the following:

* almost instantly figure out what is wrong with just about anything

* quickly come up with good solutions for almost any problem

* make anyone understand your point of view

* inspire everyone around you, and . . .

* get people to help you succeed.