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Need to write an article? 'Three' is a magic number!

Writing articles for magazines, the Internet or the local community paper needn't be a headache. Providing they are informative, reasonably short and to the point, readers and publishers will welcome your articles.

But, if the secret to writing neat, sweet articles is to keep them succinct, how do you maintain your focus and avoid the pitfalls of waffle?

Try the 3 by 3 Plan!

Taking a really simple example, suppose you want to write about kites. The first stage is to brainstorm all the possible topics under the heading of 'Kites'. You may come up with several ideas here: for example, kite history, kite safety or making a kite. Any of these subjects could form the basis of a good article.

Select just one of these ideas (let's choose 'kite-making') and then you can start to put the '3 by 3 Plan' into action.

Brainstorm again to extract just three topics related to kite-making. Remember, you want to stay focused in your article, so three is a good number to begin with! The topics you find could be:
    1. Types of kite
    2. Parts of a kite
    3. Decorating a kite
Now, for each of your three main topics, select three linked sub-topics that will relate to your audience. Children (or parents, for that matter!) might want to know the basic information about:

1. Types of kite - (a) Classic diamond (b) Hexagon (c) Star

2. Parts of a kite - (a) Sails (b) Spars (c) Flying lines

3. Decorating a kite - (a) Painting (b) T-shirt transfer paper (c) Applique

Once your plan is in place, write three sentences about each of your (a), (b) and (c) sub-topics. You'll be surprised at how quickly your article will grow and how sharp and to-the-point your finished writing will be.

And finally, staying with the idea of three as your 'magic' number, here are three more tips:

1. Make sure you have a connecting or transition sentence between each main topic. A good linking phrase will entice your reader to keep on reading!

2. Write your introduction after you've written the main body of the article. Keep it interesting but limit it to 3 sentences!

3. If you want to write a longer article, use 5 or 7 as your 'magic' number ...

©  2005 Lynda Blake. All Rights Reserved.

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Lynda Blake is an independent writer, working with small UK businesses to improve their web presence.
Resources used in this article: Brainstorming and Ideas Organizer software
More articles by this author can be found at