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Authors: Are You Getting to the Point Fast Enough?
There may be nothing that bothers me more than an author who doesn't know how to get to the point.
I believe that our ability as humans to communicate is one of the most singular and important gifts that we have as a species. So it bothers me when I see people, shall we say, abuse the privilege. And one of the biggest errors of commission is when an author takes hundreds of words to get to the point of the article. As the reader, you are forced to wade through a huge chunk of the writing to figure out if it’s even something that is of interest to you.
Or you don’t.
I think that most people just sort of give up. I know that I do. And it’s a shame because in many cases, the author has something important to say.
The culprit, in most cases, is the (very) long setup. An author believes that they have to “set the stage” before they can make their point. So they go on and on before they ever tell you why they’re going through the setup to begin with. And it can be excruciating.
So what’s the answer? If you’re an author or aspiring author (and aren’t we all?), then there’s a simple technique that you can use to get around the long-setup dilemma: The Flashback
HOW MOVIES GET AROUND THE LONG SETUP
Business writers aren’t the only one’s with this problem. Movie or fiction writers often face the same dilemma. The point of their story doesn’t make sense without a lot of background information that sets the stage for why the main point or situation is important, valid or dramatic. Without the context, they know it won’t make sense.
But fiction writers also know that if they give you all of that setup without any reason for you to care about it, you’ll get bored and turn off the show or movie or put down the book. So instead, they get right to the point, set up the drama and then, knowing you need context for it all to make sense, start doing flashbacks or introducing subplots to give you the back story.
There’s no reason that you, as a business writer, cannot use the same technique. Get right to your point, right at the beginning of your article, eBook, white paper or whatever you’re writing. If you need a longer setup to provide context, then go back to it and tell the back story, give them salient facts or cite relevant research. But make sure that you’ve already sold them on why all of this is important. Then circle back to your main point, tie it all up nice and neat and bring it home. It’s an effective technique that has the dual benefits of both keeping your reader engaged and making your piece interesting and different.
Experiment with it and have fun and see the difference it makes.