7 Deadly Writer’s Sins: #6

We’ve covered a few of the barriers that keep our reader from developing an interest in what we have to offer. 

Remember, you want to entice or invite. 

Your material may be controversial, or filled with conflict.  It may be fact or fiction.  Whatever it’s about, does your opening or lead create curiosity?  Is your material consistent and accurate? 

Failure to properly quote or not provide credit for quotations from other works brings us to another barrier to finding and keeping your reader.

Sin #6:  Inaccuracy and Inconsistency.

Much of the material you will use will come from others.  As a writer, once you’ve determined a topic and what viewpoint you want to share, you are probably ready to begin your research. 

You may read dozens of books, newspaper articles, blogs, ezines, etc., before beginning your outline or first draft.  Or you may conduct interviews with experts in the area you plan to write about. 

As you write, however, be sure to separate fact from opinion, and ensure that if you are quoting information from any copywrited source, that full and accurate credit is provided.  You can use factual material and make the facts “your own” by adding new material to provide a different slant than the article from which you obtained the facts. 

An example might be:  “In my opinion, the facts stated in this article, which I obtained from the New York Times [date/time/page], do not support the conclusion reached by the article’s writer.  In a Boston Globe article [date/time/page] , the writer used these same facts and reached an entirely different conclusion.  After careful analysis of both articles, I believe the facts quoted in both articles could support yet another possibility.   It is my opinion that the following conclusion could be drawn from the facts listed in both these articles ….” 

If the topic is of interest to the reader, the controversy now created may spark sufficient curiosity to entice the reader to commit their time to read on.  It also tells them there are facts and opinion in the article, and the source of those facts.

Another method of research often used by writers is an interview.   Show respect for the person you are interviewing by preparing the questions you plan to ask in advance, and providing the “interviewee” a copy as much in advance of the interview as possible.  Let them know you appreciate their time and effort, even if they’ll be compensated for it. 

While you may agree to do this as a “live interview” for a podcast or some other purpose, if you’re doing the interview for an article or other writing project, it probably won’t be on video.  If it isn’t, then if at all possible, use a tape recorder… with their permission of course.  The reason this is important is that it is very easy to misquote someone if you are taking notes. 

The “ear” does not always hear what the hand writes during the interview process.  A tape recorder is an easy way to verify the accuracy of what was stated.  It also leaves you, as the interviewer, free to make notes on the highlights of the interview, and listen for content to determine if follow-up or clarification questions will be needed.

Once you’ve got your first draft written, check it thoroughly for both accuracy, and consistency.  Make sure that the slant or viewpoint you are presenting is consisent throughout so the reader is not confused.

Book editor Jody Rein says “Good work will find a home.”  Let your writing be such good work that it finds both a home and a purpose.

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