Saturday, September 20, 2008

You Can Write Newsletter Articles If You Can Write Three Sentences

You say you can't write. You're afraid you don't have the savvy to put your thoughts into written words. I want to ease those fears by showing you a way to overcome that hurdle and start your writing career today.

Bear with me as I demonstrate a writing technique of two United States presidents. The content of the excerpts that follow have absolutely nothing to do with what I'm trying to show you. But the three paragraphs when looked at sentence by sentence do have one thing in common.

See if you can discover the similarity of each example. Never mind the words and that they were written by highly educated, famous men. Look only at the structure of each paragraph.

"THE WORLD is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same
revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe--the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God."

John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address Friday, January 20, 1961

"THE MONEY changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit."

Franklin D. Roosevelt First Inaugural Address Saturday, March 4, 1933

Okay, what in the world am I talking about? Here's how to find out. Open a word processing file and do this little exercise.

For each paragraph, type these headings:

"Topic Sentence" "1." "2."

Then copy and paste the first sentence of each passage after the heading "Topic Sentence". Finally, place the second sentence after number 1 and the third sentence after number 2.

Can you see a simple pattern developing? Notice that each paragraph has only three sentences. The first is the topic sentence, or the main idea, and the next two are supporting sentences.

Now, get out a blank sheet of paper and write our three headings, leaving a little space between them. Then do this little exercise.

Write for your topic sentence, "I like to do these two things in my spare time." For number one write, "First, I like to..." And for number two, write, "Second, I like to..."

Finish each supporting sentence yourself. Don't try yet to be fancy. Just say what you like to do.

There - you have just written your first paragraph. It won't fit into your inaugural address so handily, but, like the inaugural passages, it IS a complete, logical paragraph.

Here's another example. Notice the way the paragraph flows from the topic sentence to the supporting sentences. Both supporting sentences relate to the topic sentence.

Topic sentence: Here is how I love to eat apple pie.
1. First I warm a generous slice for sixty seconds in the microwave.
2. Then I dip a large scoop of vanilla ice cream on it and dig in.

Now that you've written a paragraph, on another blank sheet of paper write three ideas for topic sentences. Never mind whether they are complete sentences with subjects and verbs. For now, just jot down ideas.

Next, do the same thing for your supporting sentences, number 1 and number 2. Try to make each idea relate to the topic idea. Work fast and save making up complete sentences for later.

Polish up your piece by making each idea a complete sentence, or at least a complete thought. When you're finished, think of a title for your article - oops, did I say, "Article"? Practice this skill now, and you're on your way to writing a workable ezine article.

An article can be structured the same way as a paragraph. Get your ideas assembled on blank paper. Your first paragraph becomes the topic paragraph, and each paragraph that follows, a supporting paragraph.

Now do me a favor. Go back through this article and count the sentences in each paragraph. You'll find it is structured in three-sentence paragraphs - the very way I've shown you.

In reality this technique works great in most cases. At other times shorter or longer paragraphs will fit better. You be the judge, as long as each supporting sentence relates to its corresponding topic sentence.

Finally, research some ideas for an ezine article. Write them down in a logical sequence and construct three-sentence paragraphs. That's all you need to begin your writing career.

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