We’ve already talked about the 5 Essentials of Good Writing, and because I’m in the business of service blogging, I’ve developed a “5 Essentials” worksheet to help you apply these fundamental elements to your writing.
Review the worksheet before you start writing and answer the first two questions. After you’ve completed your piece, answer all five questions and compare the applicable component of each Essential to what you wrote.
I’ve included a downloadable version here.
Worksheet: The 5 Essentials for Good Writing
Use this worksheet to evaluate your non-fiction writing, including blog posts, articles, or essays.
|PURPOSE: What need is your writing fulfilling?|
You’re writing to inform your readers about a person, place, or thing (e.g. event or idea).
You’re writing to persuade your readers to accept a particular point of view or opinion.
You’re writing to provoke emotional responses (e.g. amusement) in your readers.
|EFFICACY: What is the intended effect of your writing?|
You want your audience to assess your ideas and supporting details.
You want your audience to feel something about what you wrote (e.g. amusement, anger, sympathy, or sadness).
You want your audience to do something after they finish reading what you wrote (e.g. donate to a charity or buy your product).
|ORGANIZATION: Is your writing structured, fluid, and free from repetition?|
You’ve arranged your writing to progressively develop your main idea and supporting details.
Tip: Introduce your main idea early, include supporting details in the middle, and conclude with a summary or call to action.
Your sentences, paragraphs, and sections connect to each other and to the main idea of your writing.
Tip: Use linking words or phrases to connect paragraphs (e.g. “The first step in the process is,” “The second step in the process is”).
You introduce ideas and details only once, and when you bring them up again, you’re developing the content.
Tip: Search for words or phrases in your document to see how many times they appear. Revise or eliminate repetitious phrasing.
|CLARITY: Is your writing concise, precise, and descriptive?|
You’ve used only as many words as necessary to discuss your main idea and supporting details.
Tip: Keep the average sentence at 15-25 words in length.
You’ve used words that convey your exact, intended meaning.
Tip: Ensure every pronoun clearly links to its antecedent (i.e., the noun you’re referring to with the pronoun).
You’ve included words that are specific and informative.
Tip: Use strong nouns and adjectives (e.g. “Researcher Sally Smith” vs. “Biologist Sally Smith”).
|MINDFULNESS: Are the tone, point of view, and content appropriate for both your writing and audience?|
You’ve identified the intended audience for your writing.
Tip: Ask yourself who the “average” reader in your audience would be (e.g. “What is their gender, age, occupation, education level?” or “Are they novices or experts?”)
|Tone & Point of View
You’ve used a tone and point of view that will affirm your expertise while still engaging your intended readers in the text.
Tip: Eliminate slang or colloquial words or phrases to achieve a more expert tone.
You’ve included information that supports your main idea and that your intended audience can understand.
Tip: Remove “trendy” jokes or references that may only appeal to a specific group for a specific time.
Notes for the “5 Essentials” Worksheet:
- I suggest choosing a primary purpose for every piece of writing. You could absolutely write an informative article that is also entertaining, but your primary focus would be to inform your readers.
- Similar to purpose, I suggest choosing a primary intended effect for every piece of writing. If you want your readers to donate to your charity, you can appeal to their emotions, but you primarily want them to act on what you’re saying.
Looking for some expert help with your writing? Check out my services page. I offer competitive rates for copy editing and developmental editing, and I’d love to work with you to make you and your writing sound more credible and authoritative.
More to Come!
Come back next week for more discussions about writing like a PhD! Until then, follow me on Twitter!