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7 Formulas for Writing Articles That Get Read!

By Alexandria Brown

Many of us have been asked to write an article at one time or another. Maybe it's a contribution to the company newsletter. Or a promotional article to gain publicity for ourselves or our companies. Some of us write articles regularly for clients.

No matter why you're writing an article, it's your responsibility to make it be interesting - otherwise no one will read it. (Except you.)

So how can you make your article interesting and engage your reader? It's all about the ANGLE. First pick your topic. For example, let's say your topic is something boring ... "car wax." Now, here's where many people start writing.

Stop! You need an angle! What aspect of car wax do you want to write about? Is there anything new or sexy in the world of car wax that people are interested in? Some ideas: how the new generation of car waxes helps protect your paint job for twice as long, OR, an overview of the best five brands of car wax on the market, OR what the best type of wax is for your particular car. Get it? These are all angles. (By the way, I've never even waxed my car, so please take these ideas with a grain of salt! ; )

Ready to brainstorm your angles? Here are seven article "formulas" to get you started. Some elements of each may overlap with each other, but each formula is truly a distinct animal.

1. The How-To

People love how-to articles! They lead the reader step-by-step through how to reach an objective. They also sometimes offer resources the reader can contact for more information.

What expertise do *you* have to share? Turn that subject into an interesting how-to for readers. Examples: "How to Make Your Employees Stick Around Forever," "How to Find the Best Dress for Your Figure," and "How to Promote Your Business for Free."

2. The List

This is one of the most basic formulas and the easiest to write. Give a short one or two paragraph intro, then launch right into your list. Keep each item to a few sentences max. People love numbers, so number your list and give your total number in the title! Examples: "31 Ways to Organize Your Office," "15 Tips for Pain-Free Feet," "Five Reasons Management Won't Be the Same in 2001".

3. The "Straw Man"

Here you set up a premise and knock it down, showing the benefits of your alternative view or approach. This is ideal to use when you're discussing the drawbacks of a new practice or method that's controversial right now. Here's a great example we often see on the covers of health magazines: "Are High Protein Diets the Key to Fast Weight Loss?" You get all excited, thinking you've discovered an amazing dieting revelation. But the article reveals, point by point, that high protein diets are unsafe for the long term, and that of course the only reliable way to lose weight is through diet and exercise. Oh well! Back to the treadmill....

4. The Mini Case Study

Raise a provocative question and then answer it with three or four real-life examples. Example: For an article titled, "Should You Quit Your Job and Go Freelance?" you could begin with a few stats on how today's workforce is leaving the corporate world in search of solo bliss. Then you could feature a few real cases, each with different outcomes to show all sides of the issue.

5. The Interview

Choose a credible expert to interview for your article. For example, if your topic is the latest trends in banking, you could interview a top banking industry analyst. Present it in either a traditional article format or do a Q&A format.

6. The Trend

Trends aren't just for fashion! Whenever a trend sweeps a certain profession, you'll suddenly see dozens of articles covering the topic. From the latest hairstyle to the latest tax shelter, people want to know all about these trends - their origins, benefits, and drawbacks.

7. The Study Finding

These articles report the results of a study or survey. If you do a bit of research, you can probably dig up a recent study on which you can base your article. Examples: "Blue Chip Companies Cutting Marketing Budgets Across the Board," "Armadillos Now Deemed America's Favorite Pet," and "More 20 Somethings Finding Love Online."

Alexandria Brown is president of AKB Marketing Communications. Her FREE monthly e-zine gives "how-to" tips on writing compelling copy for Web sites, brochures, and e-zines. Learn how to attract new clients and strengthen your customer relationships! Subscribe today at http://www.akbwriting.com or by e-mailing to: KBMarCom-On@lists.webvalence.com 


Buying E-Books on Writing Can Change Your Life!

By E. P. Ned Burke

Imagine a vast library with no bookshelves, no book counters and no hard cover or paperback books. The entire space is empty, save for rows upon rows of swivel chairs facing slim and sleek monitors. It’s still a library, still a storehouse of thousands (millions!) of free or inexpensive books. But there is a big difference.

Thanks to the ever-widening horizon of the speedy internet, this is the picture of the future. It’s going to be the world of billions of books-actually, e-books to be precise-taking up a very tiny fraction of computer memory space compared to rooms filled with today’s heavy books.

Are you a wannabe or aspiring writer?

If so, you must need reference books, tons of them. And you’re probably spending a fortune on books right now that clutter up your house or apartment. But marketing-writing e-books offer a no-hassle solution. Why are e-books indispensable for you as a writer or marketer? Here are some reasons:

* If you’re in need of knowing more about some points you can either cross-reference using hyperlinks, or copy the points and find out the relevant information over the Internet.

* You can store millions of e-books on your computer’s hard disk and, as a result, your study room remains spacious and uncluttered. 

* You can print your e-books and bind them with inexpensive coil rings and even carry dozens of them anywhere, with a weight much less than your portable laptop.

* If you are a senior or have poor eyesight, you will benefit from reading e-books because a simple mouse click on your computer can enlarge the size of text at any time. E-books, unlike traditional printed books, allow you to adjust the text size or font face whenever you want.

* Tired of reading? Wish someone could read it to you? Well, once again, e-books are your answer. With downloadable e-books, it’s a simple matter of using a text-to-speech software program to automatically convert your e-book into an audio book.

* Thousands of e-books on writing and marketing can be found easily online and downloaded quickly and inexpensively. Look for a one-stop information and learning center that will meet all your needs on one site, rather than having to surf the entire web.

This is what Minhaz Parvez of Bangladesh has to say about his experience on how e-books helped him write a cook book:

“I’ve never even baked bread, all by myself. I’ve nonetheless seen that cook books are now selling like crazy. So I decided to be a writer for the wannabe chefs out there. I punched ‘e-books, cooking’ into Google and wow! I came up with many digital pages that squeezed a writer out of me. But, my search did not end there. I went even further and found more web sites and e-books. Enough information to fill a book! And so now, me the non-cook, has his own cook book that will soon hit the bookstores.”

So face it! The future is now. And ‘how to ebooks’ will give you the information and inspiration you’ll need to stay ahead of the learning curve of today’s ever-changing world. The price for knowledge has never been so low. 


How To Earn Cash By Writing - Some Questions Answered

By Donald Massey

One of the most interesting and viable options to earn money through the internet is by writing articles. If you have a flair for writing or if you want to put to use you knowledge on many subjects, it is not difficult to earn cash by writing. You can opt for freelance writing which is considered by many as arguably the best way to earn money online.

How can I earn money easily by writing?

The million dollar question - how can I earn money or make money online? The answer is simple. 'Freelance writing' - which involves writing for people having a content requirement. These people usually have products or services to sell and need content to promote their business on the internet. The content that you write is put up in these sites for people to read and understand about the product or services offered by the site. It can also be used to announce something new the site has to offer.

You can write just general content, content which is targeted at search engines which includes keyword oriented writing, content for encyclopedias, ezines, press releases e-newsletters, knowledge sharing websites and much more.

Thus, there are plenty of options available in online writing jobs.

Freelance writing offers great advantages as well as freedom. You can choose to write in your time without feeling the constraint of a regular 9 to 5 job. You can also voice your opinions or concerns and get paid for them too! If you are someone seeking a way to voice your opinions on subjects which you specialize, writing articles or blogs or ezines is a great way to showcase your ideas and bring awareness to people.

How good or bad is the payment for online earn cash opportunities?

Payments received for online jobs are very good and lucrative. Freelance writing jobs can earn you considerable cash, using the internet as a means for receiving and submitting your work. However, to be able to earn a considerable and rewarding income, it is advisable that you write on subjects in which you possess in-depth knowledge.

Another best practice is to register on web portals that act as mediators between you and the person or company offering you an online writing job. As you will probably never know or meet the people offering you the online writing job, you may be duped and cheated out of your payment. This is where such portals make life easier for freelance writers. You can also ask the job provider for a token advance payment as a show of good faith to safeguard your interests.

Indirect advantages of online writing jobs

Online writing can take you across writing projects which enhance your knowledge and writing skills. These jobs can be done from the comfort of your home, your office, during weekends, in other words, whenever you have extra time to spare for writing. Many online jobs give the benefit of flexible work hours, so you can pick and choose projects and the time you want to do them, while earning good money at the same time.

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Self-Publish Your Book and Tell the Big Boys to Take a Hike!

By E. P. Burke

Many authors regard traditional publishers as pompous, totally unfair creatures with little, if any, consideration for the feelings of another human being. And, in many cases, they are right. So forget 'em. Self-publish your book now!

When an author's work is rejected from some snobby NY firm, you can be certain the publisher responsible for this dastardly act will be blacklisted for eternity. Authors have even resorted to voodoo and witchcraft to bring about revenge, I am told.

It's true that many big money publishers regard authors with the same amount of enthusiasm as a shot of penicillin. That is, they realize they need a few of them to fill up pages of a book which they in turn sell for a profit, but somehow they can't shake the feeling they are being fed nothing more than fungus on moldy cheese.

Actually, authors are a hard-working lot. Many are very prolific, like Charles Hamilton, alias Frank Richard "Billy Bunter." He was known to produce 80,000 words a week of finished copy. His lifetime output was said to be more than 72 million words. The fact that Charlie never married might have had something to do with his many hours of productive labor. But who can say.

Erle Stanley Gardner of Perry Mason fame worked on as many as seven novels at one time. Before he died in 1970, he dictated up to 10,000 words a day.

Then there was John Creaset, the British novelist, who pounded out two complete books in a single week. (Talk about touch-typing!)

A few authors did get paid well. Consider Hemingway being paid $30,000 for a 2,000-word article on bullfighting for Sports Illustrated in 1960. That's $15 a word for writing about some guy throwing the bull.

And let's not forget that "Big Publishers" often make mistakes. All you have to do is consider the people who turned down "Gone With The Wind" because they felt it was too long. Numerous publishers also rejected the novel "Peyton Place" before it was accepted and eventually sold 12 million copies.

But what publisher, or anyone else for that matter, would ever dream that six million people would go out and purchase a simple boy/girl postcard created by Donald McGill in the early 1900s with this caption:

He: "How do you like Kipling?"

She: "I don't know, you naughty boy. I've never Kippled."

This goes to show that an author must (for a better choice of words) stay the course. If he or she has talent and persistence, that author may eventually find a traditional publisher equally gifted and farsighted who will be quick to recognize these attributes.

But don't count on it. Instead, self-publish your book. At least that way you can see your book in print in a matter of weeks, rather than years. And no matter what you've heard, YOU will always be the one responsible for promoting your book ... unless, of course, you're James Patterson or Stephen King.


The Power of Word Pictures

By Gary Eby

It is the last full day of our vacation in Yachats, pronounced "ya-hahts".

This amazing place was named after the Yachats Native Americans who were hunters and gathers in the 1500's. There are several translations of the word, but the one I appreciate the most truly characterizes the environment here: "as far as you can go along the beach."

I am in our living room, nestled up in the lounge chair, looking at the omnipresent ocean through our panoramic view windows. The sky is cloudy at 7:30A.M., with streaks of power blue on the horizon, hinting of a possible clearing.

Ocean waters appear foamy, grayish-white, but they play surf music with wave cymbals and splash drums. Sometimes they erupt into blow-hole spectaculars—actually shooting spray twenty or more feet into the air between the volcanic rock fingers.

I have no idea what I will write about today. And you know what? That's okay. I will just let it flow; but I do want to provide more advice to aspiring writers, and some energetic support to all who delight in the healing power of words.

First idea, I think writers should capture images that inspire and connect emotionally with the reader. For example, the last two sunsets here were an almost out-of-body experience for me. We can all relate to sunsets, right?

Along these lines, I recall the sun sphere presented its magical illusion of disappearing into the ocean horizon. The sky became a radiant portrait of pastel colored ribbons, gleaming with flame red, tangerine, soft pink, and all shades in between.

Such a vision was accompanied by a sea chorus, singing to all of us about the mystery and wonder of life.

Next idea, I suggest writers read their material out loud. The sound of words casts a rhythm of sentences, which comfort, inspire, and reveal pathways to better stories. Or, they can even point the way to emotional healing.

To illustrate this, I remember the hike I took yesterday with our son Jason and our 14-year-old granddaughter, Kaidyn. I experienced considerable comfort and pleasure from reading out loud the following passages:

We started at a place called Cape Perpetua, high in the mountains off the Highway 101 South, heading out of Yachats towards the quaint town of Florence. The ocean view from the roadside observation station was enough to take our breath away.

In the distance was the pine tree covered peninsula that formed one arm of the U-shaped bay. Pulsating, whitecap waves, in parallel lines rolled endlessly up and over the volcanic rock slabs below. The rocks appeared to look like gigantic, distorted, black and white checkerboard squares.

This scene compelled us to move down the hilly hiking trail, which descended through ferns and Queen Annes Lace fauna to explore the rock formations at the oceans' edge. These ancient protrusions, we soon discovered, kept hidden wondrous tide pools, stocked with fishy sea smells of anemones, multicolored star fish, and purple and pink sea urchins.

We laughed and shouted to each other when making new discoveries, played out against a background of surf timpani and blow-hole eruptions. The water spray, sea energy, and excitement underscored the incalculable value of family love, and the awesome glory of life itself.

Last idea, whether you are a writer or not, I can't emphasize enough the importance of slowing down to stop and breathe. When you live more in the moment, your positive inner voice will guide you to achieve whatever you seek—published books or healthy lives.

I believe we move too fast in American culture, or we just numb ourselves out with mind altering behaviors, distractions, and electronic devices. Let me share with you how I slowed down on my vacation.

At 10:30A.M this morning, the clouds had moved out, the sun is gloriously back, framing the sky with a collage of deep blue, power blue, and pale pinks on the ocean horizon. I walked outside to the grassy cliff behind our rental home, and simply paused to listen.

I became aware of the sea concert carried on a salty, windy breeze that embraced all of my senses. I assumed the crouching Tai Chi position, took a deep breath for three seconds, exhaled slowly for six; and floated my arms up like the extended wings of a great swan.

As I went through my healing ritual of breathing, stretching, dancing, and affirmations, I noticed my son and granddaughter observing me through the windows. They were laughing and copying my various closed-hand prayer positions. I smiled back, gave them a thumbs up, and finished the process of standing still in the blessed moment of the now.

Oh yes, the message (my inner voice spoke to me) was about the acceptance of humility and gratitude that comes from recording these precious moments; and the joy of sharing them with all who find comfort from a writer's word pictures.

Mr. Eby is a Master Social Worker with more than 30 years of professional experience. He is an author published by SterlingHouse. He currently works as a therapist and counselor at Options For Southern Oregon, the local mental health agency. He has also provided online life coaching services on eBay for many years. For more information visit his site at http://www.squidoo.com/garyeby


How to Tug at Your Readers' Heart Strings

By Mervyn Love

When we think about emotion in a story the word can mean different things to different people. The main divide and therefore the main difference is, of course, the male/female one. It might seem obvious, but if there is any doubt as to which you are writing for, men or women, think about it because your story must be couched to suit.

As a general rule women want to be moved by love, sympathy, uplifting sentiments, incidents of caring and nurture, etc. This is not to say that they don't want excitement, danger or cliff hangers, but most women will respond to the higher emotions more readily than men.

Men want, again as a general rule, to read about action, danger and success in conflict. The emotions they respond to are fear, anger, sometimes hate, triumph and anything that shows the hero feeling fulfilled by overcoming the obstacles that have been thrown his way. Which is not to say that they don't like the love element, but it is often, shall we say, on a more basic level.

Now please don't hold up your hands in horror and cry 'stereotypes!' Face the facts: men and women really are different! As a general rule.

When you begin a story take a good look at your hero or heroine and decide exactly how they would react in the situation you are about to pitch them into.

This means working out where they have come from in their life journey to date. Are they bitter as a result of life's trials, or are they resigned to their fate? Or what? A word of warning: don't make your hero too well balanced. Remember, 'well balanced' can also equal 'boring'.

Remember also that your hero or heroine should be flawed in some way. So decide what that flaw is and the experience that produced it. Then colour their emotions and reactions accordingly.

Your readers want to experience what your characters are feeling so they can live vicariously through them. To do this you have to show what a character is feeling. This can be done by simply describing what is happening, such as:

'Amanda felt the hot blood rush to her cheeks.'

The context of the incident should tell the reader why. Is she blushing with embrassment, or is she angry?

You can let the character say what's happening:

'Stop talking like that! You make me so angry!'

For the male characters you can say something like:

'Dirk strode swiftly across the room, anger blazing in his eyes. His fist caught Parfitt squarely on the chin and sent him reeling. "Don't you dare talk to Amanda like that, you miserable toad!"'

Space the emotional scenes in your story so that the reader isn't in a constant state of emotional tension. It's OK to build these scenes as the story comes to a climax; just don't overdo it.

As a general rule (there's that phrase again!) readers want to feel satisfied, fulfilled and relieved that good triumphed over evil in the end. Learn to give them the emotional fix they're looking for and you will build a loyal readership eagerly awaiting your next story.

Mervyn Love writes on several topics including creative writing. His website http://www.WritersReign.co.uk has a mind-boggling array of resources, articles and links to keep any writer happy for hours. Subscribe to the WritersReign Article Writing course here: http://www.writersreign.co.uk/WRac.html



Story Endings are Important, But How do You Get There?

Should you know exactly how your story ends before you start or leave it to chance? Different writers go about it n different ways. Find out what suits you best.

There are four methods you can use to plan how your story will end:

1.  Just do it.

This is where you start writing from page one and hope it will all turn out right in the end. Fingers crossed.

Some writers deplore this approach, others find it works for them.

You've got an idea for a story and maybe the main characters are coming alive in your head. You've no idea how it's going to turn out, but you want to go for it anyway. And with luck and a dry wind you may well get there. So go for it. Time will tell whether you've got the creative tide running strongly enough to bring you safely into harbour or not.

The danger here is that your story might get stuck on the sandbank of I-don't-know-what-to-do-next or totally shipwrecked on the rocks of This-is-a-load-of-rubbish. If the former, then there may be hope of rescue. Read your story and jot down the main events so far. Now put your thinking cap on and decide seriously how you want it to turn out. Then do 'what ifs' to find a path into clear water and on to landfall.

2.  Bare bones.

This is where you write down the beginning, middle and end of the story, but otherwise leave it to develop itself.

Not a bad plan this one unless you're writing a mystery or detective novel and you need to plan things out more thoroughly than that.

For short stories it should work well.

3.  The whole caboodle

This is more applicable when writing a novel or a very long short story.

Write a detailed synopsis, maybe broken down by chapter or section, so that you know exactly how it's going to work out in the end.

Some authors use the 'cover-the-wall-with-A4s' method. Take a sheet of A4 for each chapter and write on it what is going to happen in that chapter. Then stick them on the wall in chapter order. This makes it easier to see at a glance what's going on and how everything links up. Use different coloured pens if you want to follow say a subplot through so that you don't forget anything.

This has the advantage, providing you've got the wall space, of being able to change things quickly, add, delete or merge chapters as you go along. You could use Word for Windows and read it all on screen, but it's just not the same.

4.  Suck it and see.

Write the first chapter or section to get a sense of whether it will run to a satisfying conclusion. You may or may not know what that is to begin with.

This method is good if you have a novel in mind and don't want to work out a detailed synopsis to start with.

When that first chapter is finished and it excites you, gives you goose bumps or simply that yeesss! feeling then you may be onto a good thing and it's worth taxing the brain cells to get the whole framework sorted out.

Conclusion

From personal experience this is what I think works:

Methods 1 and 2 work well for the short story; 3 is best for the longer story or novel, and 4 works OK for either.

Mervyn Love writes on several topics including creative writing. His website http://www.WritersReign.co.uk has a mind-boggling array of resources, articles and links to keep any writer happy for hours. Subscribe to the WritersReign Article Writing course here: http://www.writersreign.co.uk/WRac.html

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