The older I get, the more discriminating I am when it comes to books and articles I read. I hate spending a single minute on a story that’s going nowhere. Yet, just yesterday, I stumbled onto a piece about writing that made me sit up and take notice. Instead of the usual disdain for a long piece of writing appearing online, I found myself re-reading it, like a condemned man reading a religious tract on salvation.
Once you have a good angle, the actual writing is a snap, because you know what to put in and what to leave out. In fact, once you have an angle, what often follows is the easiest thing in the world to write: a list.
Adair Lara’s Find an Angle to Bring Your Subject to Life caught my eye with this quote:
While children are dogs, loyal and affectionate, teenagers are cats. When you tell them to come inside, they look amazed, as if wondering who died and made you emperor.
Thank you, Adair, for coaching. I’m going to keep a copy of your article near my desk and next time I write a longer blog entry, I’ll try these tips out! Thanks so much! The whole article is an ode to having an angle in your writing. Adair offers a few other tips that I’m going to make a note of here so I don’t lose them:
- Setup: Start with the opposite of where your piece will end
- Make unlikely comparisons: .”..unlikely comparisons keep your audience tuned in because they want to see just how similar these otherwise dissimilar ideas are.”
- Highlight conflict or change with opposing viewpoints. “…write about a quirk of yours—something you always do, never do, love to do or hate to do.”
- Highlight divisions or categories. “…dividing people into unusual categories”
- Contrast tone and subject: “Write about something you hate as if you love it, or vice versa”
- Be topical, hijack the news of the day (great advice for bloggers!)
Now, rather than skim a piece, my eye wanders the lead with a simple question: What’s the angle?