Writing an article is an art form. You start with an idea, flesh it out, and send it out into the world. But so many people miss the mark on what makes a good article, well, good.
I’m assuming that if you‘re reading these words, you’re looking for a way to improve your writing. I got you. In this essay, I’m not going to bore you with technical details. I want you to take a step back and realize the structure behind a good article — the design that gives value to your reader.
If you’re short on time, this is the structure I’m talking about:
- What’s the issue or idea you’re describing?
- What’s the context in which this issue or idea matters? Or rather, why your reader cares about this issue.
- How to solve the issue or relate to the idea?
- Bring it all together with a conclusion for your reader.
- Bonus: make sure your headline complements the content in your article.
Let’s go over each step more in-depth.
Start with an Introduction
Suppose you’re writing an article about the subway problems in New York City. You need to connect it with real-world issues like news pieces or writings about the subject — in the writing jargon, we call these links citations.
How does this issue manifest? Maybe there is some research about people who exclusively use the subway train are usually late for work? You need to do your research and understand how the issue affects life. Then you need to make sure to rely on those resources in your article.
Connect the reader to the problem
If we go ahead with the NYC subway example, you’ll want your reader to be a citizen of NYC or someone who experienced using the subway. You’ll want to share a personal story about that problem from your perspective or someone else's perspective. Maybe you interviewed some people for this piece?
Then, when they talk about how they’re late for work, or there’s no place to sit, and there are always some weird people in the train stations, your reader will connect to this problem more personally.
You will motivate your reader to read through to the end.
How to solve the issue?
This section is where you present some kind of solution to the problem. It doesn’t have to be the perfect solution, but it must be better than the current situation. Otherwise, you have wasted your reader’s time. That’s worse than giving them a lousy article that still has a takeaway.
Maybe there’s some kind of bill for the NYC mayor to provide more funding to the subway? Maybe there’s a petition or some type of involvement for the reader? This part of the article is where you present these optional solutions.
End your piece with a fitting conclusion
Did you know that most readers in the 21st century skim an article before reading it from start to finish? By providing a clear conclusion, you are thinking ahead and making sure that if your piece interests your potential reader, they’ll commit to reading all of it once they read your conclusion.
Make sure you tie in all of your loose ends with this conclusion and provide some extra info to send your reader on their merry way.
BONUS: Make sure your headline works with your finished piece
You’ll be surprised how many writers do not invest the proper amount of time in their headlines. Remember: in most cases, your headline is the only thing your reader sees before they decide to click through and read it. It’s the face of your article.
I talk at length about headlines in my book coming out soon. I give it for free to my email subscribers. For now, practice one exercise about your headlines: make sure they always stay true to the content of your articles. That's clickbait when you promise something in your headline and don’t deliver in your content. You’ll want to avoid clickbait like the plague!
We talked about how to create an article from my perspective. You start with the issue you want to highlight, you connect it to your reader and make sure they care enough to keep reading, and then you provide a solution.
Let me add a bit of advice — no matter what you’re writing, always have some kind of takeaway for your reader. They need to leave your article feeling like reading it added something of value to their lives.
I hope that helped, and thanks for reading!