Sunday, August 30, 2009

Use Up All Your Ammunition

If you're in a debate, it's rarely a good idea to give away all of the elements of your argument up front. And when you're speaking to a group, you never want to bury your audience in an exhaustive list of bullet points. In both of these situations, it works well to use a policy of "saving your ammunition" or holding some of your ideas back for possible use later.

The exact opposite is true when you're first sitting down to write something. You want to get all of your bullet points out of your brain and onto the computer screen (or paper) in front of you.

Once you've written down all of the bullet points you can think of, eliminate the least compelling ones. Then choose the optimal order and grouping of those bullet points that remain. Voila! You now have the skeleton of a well-constructed article. There's no better way to create a compelling argument or story than to set out all of your ammunition and then choose the very best verbal weaponry for the job.

Next, lay down transition thoughts between the bullet points. Think of them as the connective tissue of your article. If you start with a solid skeleton, the transition thoughts will practically write themselves.

Finally, put an attractive face on your article by writing a really enticing and attention-grabbing lead.