Article On Writing Articles
Published on November 1, 2014
So, I read an article a while ago, and as I was reading it, I thought of the essay writing format that I was taught in high school. The Summary/Introduction, Body, and Conclusion format, I mean. The reason that I thought of it, was because the article strayed so far away from it that I actually gave up on the article several times, and only actually finished reading it the fifth or so time that I tried. With that in mind, I'm going to explain the essay format that I was talking about, and then discuss why I think it applies to article writing as well.
The Summary/Introduction, Body, and Conclusion essay writing format is... exactly what it sounds like. First you have an introduction paragraph which introduces the readers to your essay, and then you neatly summarize what it's about. Then, you get down to the nitty gritty, and you have your body. This can be as many paragraphs as you like, and you usually dedicated a paragraph to each point that you want to make. At the end, you have your conclusion, wherein you summarize your essay again, and you draw whatever conclusion you want.
So, how does this apply to writing articles?
Well, first, let's this out of the way, the Body section of articles are usually way more flexible than a point per paragraph. So feel free to structure your article's body in whatever way you see fit (like I'm doing right now). However, do make sure that the Body of your article isn't a complete mess, that it does have some structure, and that most paragraphs actually tie back into the thesis of the article. Otherwise, you will lose readers in the middle of your article.
What really does applies though, are the Summary/Introduction and the Conclusion sections.
It is vital to have a Summary/Introduction paragraph at the very beginning of your article. Especially in this day and age, when we have nine million things to read/watch/do/whatever. Doubly important if your article is going to be on some blog-like site. The article that I was reading (and it's not the only one, of course), didn't make it's point until around seven paragraphs in. Since it was being posted on a blog-like site, only the beginning fluff was shown on the main website - the readers would have to click on "Read More" to actually see what the article was about. Most people would have given up after trying to decipher the point of the article from what they could only see on the blog's preview of the post. The only reason why I bothered was because I was a long time reader of the site, and my gut told me that the article PROBABLY had a good point.
Furthermore, the Summary/Introduction section helps you hook the reader in. An article isn't a speech or a story, where the readers going in generally have some idea about the content because of the blurb, the speaker, or the event. An article rarely has such a luxury, so, in order to hook the readers in, the article needs to tell the readers what it's purpose is right away. There's no time for fluff, save that for the Body. The first paragraph is for you to introduce the viewers to your subject and for you to state your thesis - it is for you to tell them what the whole point of the article is.
Now, after giving a Summary/Introduction and making your points in the Body, make sure to tie up everything in the Conclusion section. I've read many articles that left the reader unsatisfied. An article can't simply make its points and leave. It needs to tie in all the points together and draw a conclusion. Whether the reader agrees with you or not is a different story, but at least the reader sees the concrete conclusion that you were going towards, and that the last eight paragraphs weren't just aimless fluff.
So, there you have it, folks - my article on how the Summary/Introduction, Body, and Conclusion format can help articles be better. Being able to draw readers in with the Summary/Introduction, making sure that the Body has points to make, and then tying everything up in the Conclusion should give your article a sense of structure and make it easier for your readers to understand you. Now, of course, not every article needs to be in this format, but if you're writing an article and you find yourself stuck, trying to communicate your thesis to you readers, maybe give this structure a go and hopefully it'll help you out.
Oh, and in case you were wondering (yes, the Conclusion is over, but this is an article, so I'm allowed to have a postscript ;) ), the article that I was reading did turn out to have a few good points (which is why I tried to read it that many times), but it just took so long to get to it and it was such a mess, that I feel that a lot of readers would have given up way before the first actual, concrete point came up.