Alyssa Gregory reports with seven tips:
"In your day-to-day work, you might find that there are times when you need to provide a client with documentation that walks them through a process or teaches them how to do something they may be unfamiliar with...Start at square one by assuming the audience will have zero knowledge of the subject matter...Make sure you know exactly what your manual needs to cover in order to avoid information overload or confusion that can come from too many details. This is especially important when the process is complex or has a lot of different parts...[C]reate a high-level outline of what the document will cover, including main and subsections. This will help you make sure your process makes sense and that each section of the manual is consistently structured...Lists are a great way to outline steps for doing something because they can help people move item by item in the way you intend. It’s also a good idea to use a table of contents and make your document searchable, if possible, to further support your step-by-step approach...[S]tick with only what the recipient needs to know. Focus on using only as many words as necessary to get your point across...Screenshots, diagrams and even videos are a great way to beef up your manual and make it easier to understand...Give it a test drive: Or better yet, have someone else who has never seen the material before run through the instructions. Take their feedback and use it to fine tune your manual...[Y]ou may need to review and update the manual periodically, especially if it’s something that focuses on a third-party application or other system you do not control. Plus, with some material, it may also make sense to offer the client a hands-on [walk-through] to ensure your instructions accomplish what they need to accomplish...Being flexible in your format and delivery can help make sure the instructions work for the recipient."
Chuck Sambuchino reports:
"Avoid special effects, amazing stunts, or anything else that can’t be accomplished by ordinary kids. Keep costumes, sets, and props to a minimum. Writing in the readers theatre format is one of the best ways to create a play that’s simple to stage but exciting in content...Use an adjustable cast. Of course, you want to follow publishers’ guidelines about size of cast and number of female/male roles. But you can make your play adaptable to various situations by building in some casting flexibility...Use some unisex names for characters or double up on titles...Instead of letting your main character do all the talking, distribute lines among a number of roles. If you use group characters...give them lines that allow for adlibs so everyone gets to say something...And most importantly, give secondary characters interesting personalities and some problems of their own – that makes them fun to play and entertaining to watch...Listen to kids talk to get an idea of how to recreate their conversations, read your dialogue out loud with a critical ear, and polish, polish, polish. Nothing is more essential to a good play than well-written dialogue!...[D]on’t be afraid to experiment a little with your play! Let the narrator express personal opinions about what’s happening onstage. Allow your main character to argue with the narrator. Place a heckler in the audience or bring an audience member on stage...Create a relatable main character, give him/her a problem worth caring about, go through a complete story arc, end up with a good lesson that’s not too heavy-handed, etc., etc., just as you would when writing a kids’ story or book...Make your script meaningful, as well as entertaining. That’s the kind of play that gets published and performed!"
Whether you want to write your own keynote speech or write one for someone else, Guy Bergstrom reports with three tips:
"With a short speech, splitting it into three parts is simple and smart. It's natural for people -- audiences and speakers -- [to] remember things in threes. A keynote is different. There's a huge chasm between a [3-minute] speech and a [30-minute] speech, between 300 words and 3,000 words...A keynote speech can take a week, or two weeks, to draft and edit and finalize. Organization and outlining can save you endless hours of rewrites...What do you want the audience to do? In a perfect world, what would every person be inspired to get up and do after listening to the speech? Everything in your speech should build up to that call to arms...Split it up into three parts -- and split those parts into three...Now you've got nine total sections of roughly three minutes apiece, and you can work on them independently until they're polished. This isn't an iron-clad rule. It's a technique. It's a good way to make sure each part of your speech is balanced...
Any sort of repetition must have a purpose. Too much of a good thing turns bad. A solid keynote speech has variety: stories about real people, examples from history, metaphors, interesting numbers, new ideas. A great speech doesn't simply string those things together. It weaves them like a tapestry and takes the audience on a roller coaster...You have to give the audience hope that they can make a difference. Explicitly saying 'You can do something' is too direct; in Hollywood, they'd say that dialogue is 'on the nose.' Tell real stories about average people -- not billionaires or geniuses -- who made a difference. Local people, if you can. There's probably somebody in the audience who's affected by this issue or has worked as a volunteer or advocate. That person's story is rhetorical gold. Don't start with it. End with it."
Tanya Landman reports:
"Writing historical fiction is all about...walking into another time and seeing it live and breathe...[T]he story is the most important element. And like any story, you take a character, you give them a problem and either they overcome it (happy ending!) or it overcomes them (a tragic one)...Immerse yourself in detail [about the time period]: what people ate, what they wore, where they worked, how they spent their days...You might know some gloriously obscure facts, but does your reader have to? Avoid cramming information in just because you want to demonstrate how much you know. A story can be so weighed down with detail that it drowns...Ask 'what if' all the time. What if this person was lying? What if it didn't happen quite the way they said? What if that person was innocent of the crime he was accused of? The 'what if' is meat and drink to a writer of historical fiction...People only ever see some of what occurs, and their view will be partial and prejudiced according to their background and beliefs. So don't try to cover every aspect of a historical event and don't try to explain it objectively. Be biased!"
Mary Rodd Furbee reports:
"Consider why you want to write children's books. If you want to write books for children, it helps to be a little crazy...Writing books for children is like starting a business. You must invest both time and money...It's the rare children's book that hits the bestseller list or wins a Newbery Award, and the rare full-time children's writer who makes a living...It's amazing what you can learn by reading the books you want to write - be they board books for infants and toddlers, picture books, early readers, middle-grade novels or young adult nonfiction. Read the best authors - over and over. If you can, take a class in children's literature or writing for children...Read articles, visit websites, join writers organizations, and buy a few all-important books...Belonging gives you an edge when you query a publisher, and they hold useful conferences and workshops. All this will cost some money, but it's an investment in future success...Find out which publishers are interested in the kind of books you want to write. Do some research...Once you've identified potential publishers, read their submission guidelines - carefully. Then obey them - religiously...Call editors only if the submission guidelines specify that you may. It's a good idea to call receptionists at the publishing houses to make sure the editors listed are still there. While you're at it, double-check the spelling of names...Submissions should be [error-free and] gimmick-free. Double-space. Use page numbers. Use paper clips and/or rubber bands, not staples. Don't use colored paper or fancy binders...A query letter is a pithy, enticing pitch about the book and about you, the author (in that order)...Be yourself - your best self. Write, revise, and proofread as many times as it takes to make your letter shine...Be prepared to wait...Writing is solitary, and everyone needs encouragement and feedback...Do yourself a favor: Join a group or start one."
Chris Birk reports with six tips:
"The phrase 'op-ed' refers to the page opposite a newspaper’s editorial page. Traditionally, the op-ed page has served as a public forum for various viewpoints and opinions on the news of the day, from political and social commentators to community members at large...Generating compelling and truly newsworthy opinion pieces that enhance your reputation and instill authority take significant time, investment, and nuance. But the rewards are usually handsome...[H]aving a solid time peg makes you instantly more attractive. News is, well, new. Business owners should look for ways to inject their opinion, product, or expertise into a current hot-button issue. Media outlets don’t care about your latest innovation or a new product line -- seek to latch onto a more generalized issue or trend...You need to show readers [via a 'nut graf'] (not to mention editors) why they should care. What’s the point? The impact?...Make sure this paragraph is up high in the piece. Once you finish writing, ask yourself: What’s the point? If you can’t provide a simple, one-sentence answer, you’re not ready to start pitching. Editors love writers who can make the same point in a lean 500 words. Get to the point immediately and use short sentences with active verbs...Drill down into a core aspect of your topic and focus on that...Focus on clearly and concisely making a single point by using examples, anecdotes, and data...[O]ffer specific solutions to the problems or issues you’ve raised...[Finish strong but] [a]void snarky and [clichéd] finishing strokes. Consider circling back to your opening paragraph and bringing the piece full circle with a tie-back paragraph."
NJ Flying Flyers reports:
"A marketing flyer contains an [attention-getting] headline, a persuasive main body and an irresistible call-to-action. Also, before distributing flyers have several people review the flyer, if possible...The headline is arguably the most important element of your marketing flyer and needs to accomplish two very important goals: First, it needs to grab the reader’s attention; and, second, persuade the reader to continue reading the flyer. The best headlines include the perceived problems and/or interests of the target audience, and the solution you are offering...[The convincing body] is where you will include the details of your offer. It should also include other details about the advantages and benefits that distinguish your business from those of your competitors...Dress up your flyer with eye-catching photos and graphics that support the services or products being offered...When it comes to marketing flyers, less is more. You want to give the reader enough information to make a decision, but not too much that you oversell it. Readers will normally browse the flyer in chunks. Therefore, writing brief and concise paragraphs will yield better results...The idea behind a call-to-action is to motivate the reader to take the desired action...Studies have shown that the reader is more likely to take action when there is a time or product limit."
Sage Media reports:
"Just as you’re hiring a professional design firm to compose the visual elements of your brochure, so should you consider hiring a professional copywriter to assist in optimizing the verbal messages you want to get across. That said, nobody knows your business better than you, and if you are going to undertake your own copywriting, there are a few basic points you should consider...[F]ocus on an idea that will endorse your company in the customer’s mind, and create a connection...To your customer, the most important thing about your product or service is how it is of use to them. So, allow your brochure copy to answer all their questions and overcome all their objections. The copy should impart that personal touch to the customer. Brochure copy is sales [strategy] in writing...[E]very page in your brochure presents the reader with an opportunity to stop going on to the next page. Get their attention, and keep it with a combination of design and copy that is attractive, intriguing, and persuasive...[A]lthough it can be argued that brochures exist to explain features, in copy it’s best to sell those features through the benefits...All too often, business owners find it too difficult to simplify their message for general consumption… because you’re so close to the product, it’s too easy to inadvertently drown your readers under a flood of technical jargon. Please, don’t do that to your prospects. If technical information is important to your particular product, it should only be presented in proper technical style (as a table chart or diagram)...[Y]ou want to make the best possible impression on your prospects. From a copywriting perspective, you can do this through tone and content, and by providing expert answers in simple English...The purpose of a sales brochure is to present a compelling, easy-to-digest overview of your company – it is not a medium in which to detail your overall business plan. Decide which points are the most important to present, and focus on those…Always, always end your copy with a call to action. You’ve built a rapport, you’ve outlined the benefits of your company to the customer – now simply and clearly tell the customer what you want them to do...Remember you are not just selling brochure paper, you are selling yourself."
Writing and editing can be pretty rigorous processes if you want to do them well, but that's what this page is here for. Check out the latest tips here.