Friday, December 02, 2005

How to write an article outline

I need to come up with an article outline for a piece I suggested for Associations Now magazine. I did a little research, and found these tips from RC Cyber Flyer.
Have a clear central theme or message
Have a narrow, focused topic
Provide details the readers has an interest in
Use experience and knowledge to the readers’ advantage
Provide insights

Key Question: Does it have those “you had to be there” details that force the readers to continue?

Organization
Have an inviting introduction
Use logical, effective sequencing
Use good pacing — slows down here, speeds up there
Strong transitions link ideas
Have conclusions that leave the reader thinking

Key Question: Do the beginning and ending work in harmony—like bookends?

Word Choice
Use words that create vivid images
Choose words that are not just correct, but precise
Be natural – don’t have a Thesaurus “overload”
Use lively verbs
Moments you notice and like
Have sparing, careful use of slang, jargon, clichés

Key Question: How many words or phrases linger in your mind?

Voice
You connect with this writer
There’s a person “at home here”
It speaks to you – makes you want to read more
The writer is writing TO someone
Narrative that is honest and from the heart
Writing that is expository: lively, engaging, and full of conviction

Key Question: Would you read it to someone?

Sentence Fluency
Text that moves with an easy rhythm and flow
Sentences that vary in length and structure
Sentences that begin in purposeful ways
Writer shows “sentence sense”
Fragments, if used, add style and flair

Key Question: Does this piece invite expressive oral reading?

Conventions
Look beyond spelling
Generally correct – touchups may be needed
Easy to read – appears proofread, edited

Key Question: How much editing does it need to get this ready to publish?
However, it's not exactly what I was looking for, which was more of a model. I'll keep looking...

UPDATE: This is more like it, from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (scary!! I'm hosting their document as a PDF, since it was an RTF document to begin with). Keeps it tidy in my mind.