I have had an experience doing freelance writing. As a matter of fact, in the first week of this month, I successfully completed a project of over 18,000 words for a client.
How would I have gotten 18,000 words? From my brain or from Balogun market?
For writers and content creators who seek to create a clear and concise copy; creating a compelling content is non-negotiable. How will you create a compelling copy from your brain alone? I tell you, no good writer writes without:
- Research: Asking questions
- Critical Thinking: Questioning the Questions
- Writing for an Audience: Answering these questions
RESEARCH is quite important. I am yet to find a story (article, essay, poem, etc) that was written without an in depth study of the topic. It is like going to the movies to find a terrible scene where the nurse intravenous needle upside down; or a military rating hanging the bars of an Able Seaman but is referred to as an officer!
Research makes writers discover and differentiate the things that exist from the things that are no longer obtainable. Without research, the truth in a story is lost.
What do you do in a research?
First, define who your target readers or audiences are. Are they children, adults, professionals, laymen, politicians, masses, etc.
Again, Know what they are interested in and how you can bring a solution based on the value you have. For example, if they are adults who find it hard to keep to their daily routine, but you have a proven system that can help them to be time managers, then you have them.
Thirdly, ask questions. Let me tell you a mistake I made for a while: I used to blog about lots of personal in 2015 until I realized that no one was interested. I. Pulled. It. Down. Shikenan!
We are in a world of #HowETakeConcernMe. So you do not just wake up like these men in Ogbete Market, who keep on forcing your size 38 feet into a size 36 wedge shoe all in the name of, ‘Buy it and wear it! E go expand later!’
Another example to wrap this up is that prior to this post, I already had asked questions on my wall, in this group and one other group. So, if you sell coffins, instead of shouting
‘Buy your beautiful and long-lasting coffins from me!’
I would rather you start with
‘Five effective ways for helping bereaved find comfort.’
This answers the #HowETakeConcernMe. Rememer that only the living buy corpses for the dead.
CRITICAL THINKING is non-negotiable. There was a point in my life, I got used to listening and contributing to gossips that I began to sieve them. Infact to avoid people practically, I would put on my earpiece, head over to smartbcamp.com/live and listen to John Obidi’s village people’s beats. In one hour, I could come up with a well researched, written and revised 500-word piece.
Here’s the deal. In critical reasoning, we question the questions to discover the absolute truths, relative truths and the statements that no longer hold water. Here you question what you know and what you have researched, you argue your findings without eny emotional inclinations. The goal is to open up you to a higher reasoning on that topic and to avoid fallacies.
Do not ever force people or your characters. Arguementum ad bacculum is the fallacy that forces people to accept your conclusion. You should know too that when you try to force characters, you begin to lose your audience.
You cannot force a ‘Zone 4’ Abuja girl character into ‘a worker in Family Worship Centre’. There’s a gradual process of plot and critical thinking that gives live to that character.
WRITING FOR AN AUDIENCE is the stage where you put all your thoughts together as a means to answer these questions. Here you:
Put your thoughts into a TOPIC. A topic is not a story. An average of 60 characters (topic) should make up your topic. Your topic should to its work as a title that compells the reader to stay with you until you have aired your thoughts. Use power words where necessary. Let us, for a second time, consider this example:
‘Five effective ways to help the bereaved find comfort’
The power words here are ‘effective’ and ‘comfort’.
If you go by the topics:
‘Five ways to help the bereaved’ or
‘Five ways to help the bereaved so that they can cope with the death of a loved one’
The former is vague whilst the latter is already a story. As a matter of fact, the bereaved can also find comfort in suicide, drugs, unhealthy habits, etc; but the power words here are effective ways for comfort.
Next is an INTRODUCTION. Never, except you are at an informal gathering, start an article with these words:
‘Let me tell you a story.’[We are here to read it already]
‘Story! Story!’[This one is a cliché that only children could get interested in]
‘I want to tell you something.’[The topic brought me here already. Or were you planning to tell me something else?]
‘This article is the best you will ever read.’[We have not read the article and you are already writing a review. Powerful!]
Use words or sentences that draw attention to begin your introduction. For example
‘Imagine you were in a world with a loved one, filled with laughter and kindness…. Suddenly death came pressing the doorbell; before you could go get the door, he had gained entrance into your home.’
Introduction opens the curtains to a stage. It is the welcome address you give to an audience that keeps them from leaving the room until the show is over. If you want to spice it up? Use metaphors and pose a main question. For example, let’s assume that the statement applied to a character, Mrs. Omotosho; we can pose a question:
‘How then can we help the likes of Mrs. Omotosho, walk down this road of pain and loneliness in the shoes of bereavement?’
Next is the BODY OF THE ARTICLE. Here you will face the business of providing answers. Describe specifically in five paragraphs, the five effective ways that the bereaved can find comfort. As much as possible, use transitional words for each paragraphs. For example: firstly, secondly, also, in addition, moreover, in conclusion, etc. Each paragraph must address a method as already given in your topic. Do not use ambiguous words; keep in mind who your target audiences are. There’s no need stating the relativity theory or Hooke’s law in a story for 5-year olds.
Next is a CALL TO ACTION. Remember that this content marketing strategy is for a coffin seller. How does he #SellHisMarket without actually sounding ‘OMATAish’ [OMATA: Onitsha Market Traders Association]. He puts a call to action. In this age of blogging, calls to action are of various varieties. What I am referring to is a call to action within the article. This is sometimes not necessary to may people, or often ignored. However, it is great to have one, asides the ‘Share now!’ ‘Get a guide!’ ‘Download your free ebook!’ buttons located on target areas of your blog.
So, the coffin seller can say:
‘In my business of coffin design and making, we do not just aim to sell the best coffins that help the bereaved give the dead a befitting burial; we also take them through a coaching session on how to function well, inspite of their pain, but to the happiness of the one who has them behind.
In the case of Mrs. Omotosho, XYZ coffin sellers took them through a 5 day mental exercise, helping them reinforce the values that their mother left behind. We also reassured them of Mama’s philosophy to be a good ancestor to her children, as well as encouraging them to carry on this legacy down to her generations of children….’
Last is the CONCLUSION. How dare you write an article without a proper conclusion? It is like being invited to host a party as an MC, and you leave after refreshments have been served. Do. Not. Try. It. Mbok!
A conclusion usually is a single paragraph that SUMMARIZES (not begins another plot) in your piece. The coffin seller can briefly say:
‘In the long run, _ , _ , _ , _, and _ will not just help the bereaved carry on the legacy of their loved ones, but will help them infuse meaningful energy into live…’
You can also make a RECOMMENDATION in this part of your article. You can use words like
‘I advice’, ‘It is advisable’, ‘I suggest based on already proven results…’ and so on.
There are other necessary things you should indicate in an article.
Your name, contacts and a bio in a few lines, especially when writing for a newspaper or popular blog.
When you use quotes, remember to use them appropriately and to reference these quotes. You may or may not reference clichés.
If you cannot afford an editor; write your first draft in a different font [say, Times New Roman] and change the orientation when proofreading [I love to use Courier New font, double spacing when editing]. Always check for errors, including factual errors. Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation must be ‘tight. Use a dictionary or thesaurus, please.
Use dialogue where necessary. It gives live to your characters.
I do hope that this article gives answers to the questions that you have concerning article writing. Do you have QUESTIONS? Leave them in the comment section.
Would you like to learn more? Type MORE in the comment section too.
Did you get to this point, reading this post? I have finally won the SEDUCTION contest. You have just read 1,642 words.