Beverley Scherberger

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#3 Focus, Focus, Focus

Narrow your focus...

Narrow your focus…

Focus, Focus, Focus

If you’re new to writing articles for submission, you may want to focus on a topic you’re very familiar with. If you’d rather SCUBA dive than eat, write about diving…. If you go horseback riding at every occasion, write about horses or riding… If you’re a coffee enthusiast, write about coffee… You get the drift.

You can always do research to flesh out the article with history or interesting little-known facts, but because of your passion for the subject, you already have the bulk of the information you need inside your head. You know more about the topic than most other people so you just need to decide what aspect of the subject you want to focus upon. Obviously, you can’t write everything about it…

Say you decide to write about horseback riding. Will you discuss trail riding? Riding in horse shows? Rodeos? Competitions? Or you could write about the equipment needed for safe, comfortable rides… Will you focus on Western tack? Or English?

As you can see, there are many different aspects of the general topic you initially select. Narrow it down so you can focus. Without focus, your article will be way too general and could jump all over the place, conveying little really useful information.

Once you’ve picked your general topic and narrowed it down to a subject-within-a-subject, decide whether you need to narrow it down even further. Using the horseback riding example from above, say you decide to focus on trail riding. That’s still a pretty broad topic. Do you want to talk about locations for trail riding? Rides in the Eastern part of the U.S. versus riding in the heat of the Western desert states? What type of horses are best for that particular sport and why? What equipment and/or clothing make a trail ride more enjoyable? Is there a type of saddle that provides the most comfort for long rides? Do you want to discuss one-day rides, overnighters, or even week-long trail rides?

Any one of those more focused topics would yield an interesting and informative article without being too broad and too long. Some subjects might even need to be narrowed down again. Before beginning to write, think about what it is you want to say and see if it’s too general. Making these decisions before putting fingers-to-keyboard will make the writing easier and much less frustrating.

Once you have a very rough first draft, you may find doing a bit of research would round out the article with tidbits you don’t know off the top of your head. Add some interesting historical facts, dates, or a quote from a celebrity who is also into your subject. This is an exception to the “rule” discussed in Blog Entry #2. Normally, you would do all necessary research before beginning to write, however, when penning an article on a subject you know inside out, writing a rough draft first will show you what tidbits you need to simply flesh it out.

Then write, re-write, revise, and let it sit for a few days. When you come back to it with fresh eyes, you’ll see where you can narrow your focus or make improvements, additions, or deletions. You never, ever want to submit an article without revising, proofreading, and proofreading again. It’s a good practice to read it to yourself out loud to hear how it flows. If it’s awkward for you to read, it will be awkward for others to read, as well.

To summarize:

  • Decide on a general topic
  • Narrow it down to focus on one aspect of your general topic
  • Decide if you need to focus even more
  • Do some minor research to flesh out your article
  • Revise, re-write, and proofread, proofread, proofread

Until the next post, good luck! And remember…

“Read to escape reality . . . Write to embrace it.”   ―     Stephanie Connolly

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