Writing the Five Essentials

The five essential questions to be answered in your article are WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHY and WHEN.

The five Ws must be considered carefully when you are gathering your research, plus using the five Ws is an excellent way to organise your material.

Here is an example of two very effective lines:

Barb Clews, author, has sold the film rights to her latest novel to XYZ Studios for $2.5 million, it was announced yesterday.

  • Who? Barb Clews
  • What? Sold film rights to her latest novel
  • Where? XYZ Studios
  • Why? For $2.5 million
  • When? Yesterday
Although this is considered a newspaper style of writing, you should aim to present the facts cleanly and concisely.

Articles in magazines are traditionally longer than newspaper stories so you will have some extra space to get your message across. But you must not lose sight of this tight way of communicating.

Don't bury any of the five Ws under lots of unnecessary words. You don't want your readers to work hard to find the gems of information. They should be presented in an attractive style that makes the reading process inviting, quick and rewarding.

Editors will not buy your work if you leave vital pieces of information until the end of your article. If your article has a weak lead (beginning) and a "fluffy" middle where the interesting bits have been completely camouflaged, the editor and the readers will never get to the end of the article.

A good exercise is to cut articles from newspapers and magazines and completely dissect them to see how the five Ws have been included. List the five Ws and in which paragraphs they are revealed. I think you will find they are quite close to the beginning of the article.

barb clews is an award winning journalist with nearly 1,000 published articles to her credit. She has been a writer and editor for 15 years and is the author of "Article Writing for Freelancers" and "20 Tips to Increase Writing Skills" Visit barb clews to subscribe to "Words that Work", Barb's monthly ezine packed with tips for writers.

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