Write for readers

Businesses are about customers. Doctors are about patients. Writers must be about readers.

Writers who start their articles about “How I spent My Summer Vacation,” are doomed to fail. Writers who begin their articles with “the definition of love is…” are doomed to fail. Why? Because readers have short attention spans.

It’s just fine to include definitions in your writing, but not to begin with them. You want to get the reader’s attention, right? Then start by engaging them.

Writers want readers to read their entire piece. Reading a thousand-page book is not that difficult if the book captures the reader and holds that person. If the book (or whatever it may be) is dull, lifeless and uninteresting the reader will leave.

Some people will disagree that writers must write for readers, but think about it. Newspapers are about circulation. Newspapers can’t afford to print long, uninteresting stories because next time the reader will buy another newspaper. Good newspapers write for readers. They sometimes think they write for Pulitzer and Peabody awards, but they don’t. They write for readers.

Beginning any written work must consider the person who is sitting reading what you’re writing. If you bore them, they will go elsewhere.  A reader has absolutely no obligation to sit still while someone pontificates to them.

Do you want to write well? Do you want people to read what you’ve written? Then make it your duty to write for readers.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Your opening paragraph should be no more than 15-20 words. If it’s any more than that, you risk losing the reader.
  2. Engage your readers’ minds. Readers are asking themselves, “What’s in this for me?” Robby the Robot said, “See a need, fill a need.” You need to create a need in your reader and then fill it.
  3. You’re writing to a human being. What interests you will probably interest them. Speak to them not as an academic, but as a person.
  4. Resist writing at length. If your work is more than 350 words, you’re on shaky ground.

Since I’ve already written 348 words, I’ll stop.