Notes on writing reports, articles, or essays
Ask any young professional which part of their job they hate, nine out of 10 will say "writing reports". If you are one of the nine, this essay is for you. Trust me, when you’ve finished reading this, you’ll have a clear idea about how to approach the task of writing a report or an essay or article.
When you write or speak, it doesn't really matter what . You may have some brilliant ideas that will change the course of history, but if your readers / listeners don’t accept any of it, your efforts are wasted. You might as well have watched a soap opera instead! Therefore, it is always a good idea to what your readers might accept. To put it simply, think from the point of view of your reader / listener before you plan to present an idea in writing or speech. In this short essay, I am going to focus on writing in general and I’ll share with you some tricks that you can use to hook the attention of your reader and keep them engaged. First, I will check how you should select the contents of your essay. And then I’ll discuss how to organize your essay.
Our first stop on the way to good writing is to analyse the reader. This means you will have to ask the following questions:
- Will my target readers be interested in this? (If the answer to this is “No”, stop writing. Select another topic or think of a different approach.)
- What do I wish to achieve by writing this? (My aim).
- How much do my readers already know? What information / knowledge will be useful to them?
- What is the cultural and educational background of my readers? (This will largely determine your contents and what kind of language you use.)
After you have jotted down your aims, think of / research what points (facts and ideas) will serve your purpose. Identify a set of points that will be adequate to achieve your aim(s). Keep them and discard everything else.
Next, we will see how we can put the ideas (points) into a neat structure. Any written text has three parts: and .
And this is what you normally include in these parts.
- A pithy sentence to capture the attention of the reader.
- Your aim, that is, what you wish to achieve; or even better, what benefit your reader can expect by reading it. Often, this sentence will give the reader a reason to read on.
- A brief outline of the contents.
This can be organized in many different ways, and let me keep this for another essay.
- Sum up the main points and highlight your main messages.
- A sharp punchy sentence containing your main message, something would create a lasting impression on the reader.
And that brings us to the end. To sum up, we have seen how we should select the contents depending on the perceived needs of our target readers and then we have examined how we should put our ideas into a structure. The ideas explained here is no rocket science. But most useful ideas in life aren’t. What is important is that we keep these ideas in the back of our head if we wish to become effective writers.
Revised on Friday, 27 Jan 2016 [Picture courtesy Wikipedia]
LET’S REVIEW. Can you go back to the opening paragraph of this essay and check the following?
1. Is there a sentence in this to hook the attention of the reader? Which one?
2. What sentences in the intro give the outline of the essay?
3. Think. Do you think sentences like these are required at the beginning of an essay or article? Why / why not?
1. Yes there is: “If you are one of the nine, this essay is for you. Trust me, when you’ve finished reading this, you’ll have a clear idea about how to approach the task of writing a report or an essay or article.”
2. “… I am going to focus on writing and I’ll share with you some tricks that you can use to hook the attention of your reader and keep them engaged. First, I will check how you should select the contents of your essay. And then I’ll discuss how to organise the contents.”
3. The sentences are important because they give the reader a reason to read on.