3 Article Outline Essentials

Most writers I talk with who experience "writer's block" do not get bogged down by the content of the article, rather they are stopped by the outline proper. Without an outline, there can be no article. You can write effectively by remembering three essentials; I will share with you how your success or failure in article writing depends on mastering these essentials.

So, what are the essentials? You already know them: your topic sentence, the body of your article, and your conclusion. A fourth essential, your title, can and should be derived from your topic sentence. Thus, if you have a title it is your topic sentence and vice versa.

The problem many writers have is really with the second essential, the body of the article. Too often this is what holds up the outline, and ultimately the article, from being successfully completed. What is the answer for you? Bullets. That's right, think of three or four generalized points and make them the highlights of your body. For example, if you are writing a product review on the Chrysler 300M your bullets could be:

1. The car's unique style.
2. The car's performance.
3. Chrysler's success with the model.
4. Special price offers for the car.

Take each "bullet" and expand the thought further by naming at least 3 related thoughts. For example, with bullet #1 you could mention that the car is boxy, with big wheels, and possesses a solid grill.

Bullet #2 could speak about the car's engine, speed, fuel performance, and interior.

Bullet #3 could stress how the 300M has successfully pulled up Chrysler's sales, you could compare it with its chief competitors, and you might want to make mention how it compares with its "twin," the Dodge Magnum.

Finally, bullet #4 might cover any specials Chrysler is running on the car, financing and leasing options, and warranty information.

Once you have the bullets in place and have identified the related thoughts associated with each bullet, it is time for you to write. In this sample case [the review of Chrysler's 300M] you will probably come up with four solid paragraphs containing an average of six sentences each.

Oh, did I mention the conclusion? Perhaps you will want to leave the conclusion out of the article until the body is done. Yes, this flies into the face of what your English Composition teacher taught you in high school, but it can be a fun thing to do. Why? As you write your body you will see that you can "move" in a variety of ways as you make your point. Once you are satisfied with your point, then write the conclusion [or summation] based on the body.

Most articles of 500-600 words can be written and written well with as little as three bullets. Longer articles require additional bullets or, at the very least, you will need to expound further on points that you have made.

You do not need to be held hostage by your outline, or lack thereof. Create a simple outline that can be expanded as you master the bullets which comprise the body of your article. In no time you will be writing strong, persuasive, and interesting articles and your writer's block will be nothing but a dim memory.

(c)2005; Matthew C. Keegan, LLC

Matt Keegan is The Article Writer who writes on a variety of subjects. In addition, Matt designs websites and manages web communities. To view his portfolio, please visit http://www.thearticlewriter.com

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