Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Writers' Lab: Writing More Compelling Articles and Blog Posts
Regardless of the style of writing, the ultimate goal of your writing is typically that Someone Somewhere does Something with your ideas.
If, for example, I write a post on achieving better concentration, my goal is that you, as a reader, will read the post, and -ultimately- achieve better concentration.
If I write a paper discussing my experiments, my ultimate goal is that a reader will use my data and test them against his/her theories, find "something" and get back to me to discuss the parts he/she finds odd.
Understanding the process from reading towards implementing ideas is interesting for all writers. Although it has been discussed mostly in terms of persuasive writing and sales strategies, it is my opinion that we can broaden these ideas.
We might write our research papers with the sole intention of getting a publication and raising our h-index. But in order to advance our field, the true beauty of publishing lies in the sharing of ideas and data, and enticing other researchers to look at our results from their perspective. These interaction leads to the advancement of a field.
Let's look at the five basic steps a reader goes through, from reading your content to reaching success/results based on your writing.
This step is the starting point - and a rather obvious step.
As a writer, it is your responsibility to make sure that all data and necessary contents are reported in your publication; and that this information is presented in a clear and understandable way.
As a reader, you should simply distill the necessary information from the writing. The reader is passive at this step.
Context is about showing the relevance of your results.
As a writer, make sure that you discuss the larger impact of your work. If possible, write a short paragraph on "research significance". It is your task to clearly show the further possibilities of your work.
As a reader, this step is where you hear a little bell ringing in your mind, thinking "this is interesting". This step is the "call to action" for the reader - he goes from passive to active.
Acceptance is all about your reader understanding that your material presents an opportunity to him/her.
As a writer, your duty is to place emphasis on your context, and to provide clarity in your results.
As a reader, this step is about accepting the idea that you should do something with the paper you just read. This stage is where you decide to pull out your notepad and sharpen your pencil. The action now fully shifts from the writer to the reader.
Action is about implementing the ideas from the writing. Action is about using the published data and exploring their possibilities.
The writer is passive in this step - this step resides within his expected outcomes.
The reader takes the active role. For a scientific publication, he goes to carry out parameter analysis based on the published data, tests a theory or explores the boundaries and assumptions of a formula.
5. Final goal
The final goal is the step in which, in sales terms, the reader "buys into the contents" of the writer.
If we translate this to academia, the final goal is an advancement -as small as it might be- of your field of study. This final goal is about the interaction between the writer (and his published content) and the reader (who might have found something odd while further exploring the published content). The moment when experts in a field look together at "something odd" is the spark for a continuation of the research and a sharpening of assumptions and theories.
Have you taken your reader into account when writing a publication? What is the final goal you wish to achieve when publishing your information?