Writing tip 8 – get to the point

Readers are all busy today. They don’t read online, they skim through websites. They want to know what’s in it for them. If they can’t find an answer quickly, they will move on. Are you about to write something? Don’t bore your audience with background in the introduction. Get to the point.

Try writing like many journalists do, try the inverted pyramid style. It layers the message you want to convey, starting with the conclusion, be it news or an action point. Your second paragraph should give the context as in why am I reading this? Then add background. The rest of the information is delivered step by step in order of importance.

Even if your readers only have time to digest four paragraphs, they will still walk away with your most important points. Job done.

Please remember, don’t start with background because your audience may already know it. The inverted pyramid layers the message you want to bring across. The top carries most of the weight, then less vital information and details start to flow. That’s why the pyramid is upside down.

I welcome your comments.

Rolf Soderlind

http://www.absolutwriting.com/ absolutwriting


3 comments on “Writing tip 8 – get to the point

  1. Rolf,
    I think that this principle can be overdone. I agree about background, but if one is making a logical presentation, it has to start at the beginning, although one can open with a summary of the conclusion or its benefits to the reader. (Oof, that sentence is too long.) Similarly humor (humour to you) can’t start with the punch line. The pyramid style was entrenched at newspapers because the writers never knew how much would be cut at the editing desk or at page makeup in the composing room.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Paul Gallagher, Rolf Soderlind. Rolf Soderlind said: Heard of the inverted pyramid? It's about getting to the point. Please read my free writing tip: http://bit.ly/f254Ed […]

  3. As Rolf mentioned, the inverted pyramid of what, when, where, how and why, is particularly fitting for a breaking wire service, or newspaper story. On main news, this style should always be applied. On thumb-sucker and feature stories, this style can be relaxed, but the writer should catch and maintain the readers interest in the first paragraph. Too often today with staff cuts, even on major newspapers, there is a sore lack of editing to tighten up a story whose lead suddenly appears — maybe — in the 5th paragraph.

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