Thursday, January 16, 2014

How To Make An Impact With Your Writing

A major reason you want to write is to make an impact. A piece of writing can either inform or drive home a point, make an appeal or do one or more of these. There are basically just three things in a writing that make an impact. These historical ingredients were well recognized by the Greek philosophers and the best writers even today use these very qualities in their writing. These are ethos, pathos and logos. A judicious mix of these three make a speech or writing persuasive. 

In other words, your writing whether serious or humorous must be factual. If you can cite authorities, credible sources and statistics the readers will take your writing seriously. It should be logical. In other words, what you claim in your writing must be appealing to common sense. Finally, if the writing makes an emotional appeal, readers tend to get swayed. However, you must be cautious in using these critical elements. They should be subtle and somewhat detached from the writer in the sense that the writer should appear to use them to drive home a point. 

Some of the best speeches and writings make persuasive use of language. Funeral oration of Pericles for instance may appear to use these qualities. Kennedy's Day of Affirmation Address and Martin Luther King's speeches, as also the speeches of Hitler are some of the examples of persuasive speech. 

What is true for speech is also true for writing. Shakespeare has used this approach in his works. 

A writer can use the elements of ethos, pathos and logos depending on the kind of writing. A serious scientific piece of writing for instance will be mostly factual, yet writers can add subtle emotion. For instance when writing on "static charge" a writer can elude to how the importance of this topic is little appreciated by people and cite some of the historical accidents that have taken place due to "static electrical charge". 

Similarly, a writer writing a piece of humor may add a line or two on how humor is important to human health and may cite evidences to elude to health benefits of humor. 

The important thing to note is that writers should ask right in the beginning before actually writing a piece, who are they writing for and what message do they want to give to their audience. If this question is answered before the writing, the next task will be easy enough. More to the point, the writing should be appropriate to the age group of the audience. 

The next important thing is create and sustain interest of the readers. The first sentence in a piece of writing is known as "hook". The best writers know how to create the hook that instantly connects them to the readers. Some writers begin with a question, the others with a quote, and still others with an interesting anecdote. Each writer has their own unique strategy. 

However, hook is just the beginning. The writer must know the skill of holding their readers' interest till the end. That is the kind of art that comes with the practice to write constantly and evolves over time.   


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