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Grammar Granny        < Previous        Next >

 

Checklist For Lively Writing

 

Follow this checklist whenever you want your writing to inform and entertain, the twin watchwords of good writing. These are rules for newspaper-style feature writing, but they apply in all sorts of writing, from committee reports to business letters:

 

  1. Test the lead. Does the first sentence capture interest? Does the first paragraph set the stage?

 

  1. Test the slant. Do your point of view, approach, angle and attitude work together?

 

  1. Topic sentences. Do you guide the reader into important details by summing them up first?

 

  1. Quotes. Direct and indirect quotations add credibility, because it's somebody else saying something, not just your opinion. Choose quotes that express an idea better than you could write it yourself.

 

  1. Anecdotes. People love stories. You can illustrate points more effectively by showing them through anecdotes, rather than telling them with straight prose.

 

  1. Service value. Does your story serve the reader's need to be informed and entertained?

 

  1. Conventions. Are your grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, sentence structure, word choices, and other "bricks" in the "wall" of this story correct and well-chosen?

 

  1. Attractiveness. People today are so used to looking at a colorful, fast-moving, relatively large screen on a TV or computer, rather than the flat, unchanging page of a book. Many, if not most, people find it easier and more fun to sit and stare passively at a screen, instead of engaging their minds in the hard, active work of reading. That's why you have to pay attention to the appearance of your writing, not just its content. Make sure the type is large enough, the margins are narrow, the paragraphs are pretty short, the paper is spotless, the pages are numbered, there are illustrations if possible, and it all looks and feels organized and professional. Like everything else in life, what's on the inside is what really counts. But to get a foot in the door, you have to make a good first impression.

 

 

By Susan Darst Williams www.GoBigEd.com Grammar Granny 015 2006

 

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