Getting your idea across to Your Reader is an art form!
Some days it can seem like just one paragraph is a mammoth effort… and that Your Reader is a million miles away!
The trick is to carefully determine who your audience is… and be mindful of preparing your writing specifically for them. Get to know Your Reader!
- What are the characteristics of Your Reader. Can you profile Your Reader? You will want to know exactly where your target lies and how to capture their literary attentions.
- Why would Your Reader be bothered to read your text? Communicating clearly and engagingly with Your Reader is your primary focus.
Short gripping and rich grabs are important handles for Your Reader
Your Reader probably reads in short grabs… most use the punctuation to guide them… but generally it is a grab of 5-10 words at a time…Then, Your Reader pauses to comprehend… and then they go on… and read a bit more… to the next few words… so every few words needs to be rich and meaningful.
Experiment: Pause for a moment now… reflect on how you read new text…? Will Your Reader have a reading pattern like you do… if so, write like you read! If not, adapt to match your writing style to suit Your Reader.
Aim for sentences with about 7 words or less! That way, Your Reader stays engaged, enthralled and most of all – awake!
- Use punctuation to guide Your Reader through the narrative pathway you have carefully designed.
- Make sure that your sentence construction is complete, and that you don’t leave the story line hanging… with an unfinished idea.
- Make sure that what you have written will convey the message you want it to convey, and that it is not possible to misconstrue the content.
- Don’t use sarcasm or double meanings in text… unless you are an expert story teller (most of us are not).
- Ideally a paragraph will be about 200- 300 words long, depending on Your Reader, and the complexity of the ideas, or depth of discussion in your paragraph. (Don’t worry – references are not included in the word count)!
- Use a referencing style that is acceptable to Your Reader. For example, a numbered referencing system might help to keep the text more readable for some audiences, while other readers want to see names and dates of references in text. Use some referencing software such as Endnote, so that your referencing is consistent throughout.
- Each paragraph needs to tell a concise and discreet part of the larger story that you are telling to Your Reader. Make sure your join the dots!
- Remember: The first sentence sets the scene for the paragraph. It indicates the big idea you are dealing with, and it outlines the topic or main theme for the discussion you are about to outline.
- Then, add one, two, three… (or reluctantly/ cautiously …maybe four) supporting sentences. Include evidence to back up your main topic/ main idea or main theme.
- The final sentence should conclude the paragraph. Summing-up the idea in a convincing crescendo. So Your Reader will have a ‘Arhhh’ moment, capturing the essence of message. Your Reader will want to feel as though they understand your idea. If Your Reader completes reading the text of your paragraph and then feels ‘dumb’, doesn’t get the gist of your idea… or is bored by it; then your haven’t conveyed a convincing message yet. Re draft, and try again!
- Each paragraph in the body of a piece of writing needs to contain three distinct elements: an idea, enough convincing evidence and a summary.
- And remember Your Reader is probably reading on an electronic device – computer, iPad, smartphone… so, write for the screen not the page!
Here are some two resources to help you structure a paragraph for your #300words this week!
- Paragraph-writing fact sheets for academic writing. Getting back to the basics.
- Writing a thesis – a great writing guide here: http://betterthesis.dk
Acknowledgement – The Burger Image for this blog is from the following writing resources team…. check it out – handy tips! http://www.readingrockets.org/strategies/paragraph_hamburger
Have you hit a writing roadblock already?
Here is how to fix it!
- Read more widely – find some new sources about your topic… a different journal from a different publisher than the one you usually select from! Broaden your horizons – just be sure that you are not selecting from a weak or unreliable source or publisher. Try a different database…
- Ask your librarian to help you with a search for relevant sources… they will probably be able to surprise you with a new search strategy… they are experts in finding the right literature to match the right question.
- Review the reference list of your already gathered literature… are there some articles that you have overlooked that might also be helpful.
- Visit the WHO mental health website they have some interesting mental health publications that might widen your approach to the topic.
- Ask yourself about the setting/context you are writing about… is it local, regional, national, or international. Do you need to expand a little further… Discuss in the local context in a wider setting perhaps, then compare and contrast between your setting in the context of a wider geography/demography.
- What is the clinical relevance of your writing. Is there a clinical implication you can state and discuss.
- Surf a little on reseachgate! Search about your topic area… are their some interesting authors you can follow, have they shared some resources that are useful to stimulate your thinking further?
- Check out the twitter action about current healthcare conferences… search a relevant # You can find them here:
- https://www.symplur.com/healthcare-hashtags/conferences/ Do something else… try again tomorrow! But, DO try again! Some days are not as easy to be sufficiently creative as other days.. for lots of personal, professional reasons… or just because the ideas have not percolated sufficiently and processed enough yet in your own mind. Time will fix that – be patient with yourself, don’t give up and just be kind enough to yourself : take a walk… outside… listen to some outside nosies… feel some outside air on your face… view the skyline… stretch… come back to it all again tomorrow – or the next day!
- Talk to a trusted colleague… ask for their tips about overcoming writing block. And, above all – you should know that this is normal! Even the best and most prolific authors have moments of self doubt, block and believe it not …. they too can be stuck for words! So, you are in good company!
If your trying to write… there are soem great tips on this blog link below… writing at an academic level – and especially for publication doesn’t come easy. It is a craft that needs to be carefully honed and fine tuned…. Reading others tips about ‘how to’ is always a useful part of the learning and fine tuning process…
Nurses (traditionally) have not been keen academic writers – but that is slowly changing. We need to publish (at a high level) what it is we do, how we do it, and our evidence to support the way we do things… I challenge nurses everywhere to give it a go… write when you can. Share your knowledge… please!