Before Taking a Word Trip

Road to Better Writing

How to think about organizing the story is typically one of the most intimidating challenges we hear from writers.

A good metaphor is to think about taking a car trip. We don’t just get in and drive aimlessly. Usually, we have a purpose around why we need to drive. And, we map out in our mind what route we might take to get to where we need to go – leave the driveway, turn right on Main, go down to Broadway, turn left on Third, and there is the store. This happens quickly in the subconscious. Some of our routes are so automatic we may not realize that we are mapping in our brain.

This metaphor has value in thinking about writing, or taking a word trip. And, the practice can become just as subconscious and quick if we spend a little time developing the skills.

Concept:  Our first step is to think about the idea we want to communicate, the audience members who will receive it, and the purpose why we think we need to share it.

Content:  What is the primary message we need to convey? What other information do we need to communicate to illuminate the message?

Construction:  What form, tone and style do we need for this particular message? Is it playful? Serious? Just a point of information? Is it an email or a technical paper?

Correctness:  Once the piece is written, that is the time to focus on grammar. Never let fear of grammar interfere with the storytelling. Editing means to review what is written before we publish or press the send button on the email.

Context:  The content editing process is also when we check to make sure our writing clearly meets the purpose we had in mind. We check the story to see if it achieves the goal of getting us from where we start to where we want to end. Are we taking the reader or listener on a logical trip?

Idea. Audience. Purpose. Message. Form. Tone. Style. Grammar. Content editing. This is the basic map of organizing a story and taking a successful word trip.