1. Once you have good command of the facts, think about how to MAKE THE READER CARE.
2. Draw the reader in by writing an introduction that reveals there is something really good coming up. The introduction is by far the most important part. If you don’t entice the reader, they’ll feel bored and put your hard work down.
3. At the beginning you want the audience to feel anticipation mingled with uncertainty. Your introduction should have questions – the absence of information actually attracts people. (It’s intriguing as long as they can trust you are going to provide some of the information later). Why are you writing about this now? What’s the significance of the story? Mention if there are lots of people affected or the scale of the issue. Is it new, close to home, about a prominent place, individual or event or does it have human interest? Is it controversial, different to what people have read before or very relevant to your particular audience (if yes why)? Consider those questions, put the reasons for its importance in your introduction and then at the end when you are at the editing stage ask the questions you reader will ask:
- Do I care about it?
- Do I want to read to the end?
- Am I convinced?
- Will I keep this piece of work to read again?
- Would my interest in this subject last – have I changed my opinion – do I want to read more about it?
4. A good story has momentum. Readers want to see an argument furthered and feel as though the idea your are developing is progressing. You must provide an insight and for this organisation is essential. Put your points/facts/revelations in an order that makes sense – build the argument. Make the reader believe you will reveal, uncover and explain.
5. Readers engage best when there is personal identification but they also want to learn something new and interesting. Make sure you have both representation and surprises.
6. Don’t stereotype, this robs people of their dignity. Don’t tell a single story about a particular person of a particular age, religion, race, economic status etc… Consider whether you’ve been fair and impartial. Have context and explain why things are the way they are. Consider the political, social and economic context.
7. Only include quotes and arguments from relevant authors. Don’t go off at a tangent. Know what you will include and what you will omit before you start. Use those relevant author’s arguments to bolster your own argument and add strength and colour. ie. “As … writes in his book called ‘…’ only the wealthiest people have access to jobs”. Have contrasting opinions and after the analysis add your own perspective.
8. Editing takes time. Make absolutely sure you finish way before your deadline. Then spend time with a printed copy going through your work sentence by sentence. Check facts, names, spelling, grammar and clarity. Make changes then print off the new copy and repeat. Doing it in one go ensures a unity of style. Be very critical of your own work and cut out anything that doesn’t need to be there.
9. The conclusion should give a sense of arrival. Its the final address to the jury. Either summarise in crystalline prose the key arguments so you can claim “case proven”, or introduce a further question that you have uncovered.
10. The best stories invoke wonder.
The best stories are original, appealing, fresh, have unexpected quotes, make sense, include contrasting points of view, and copy to make the reader think “wow I never knew that!”