What makes writing “good”?
Is it using the right word every time? Making it sound poetic and lyrical? Being creative and coming up with a combination of words that’s never been strung together before?
I’d argue that all those are totally irrelevant if you’re a blogger.
We’re not poets or playwrights. We’re more like architects or engineers.
So, what makes a good blog post?
You need to be able to clearly convey your message in a logical flow. Everything else is a bonus.
You could be the most creative and lyrical writer there ever was, but if the underlying structure is flawed, you’re just putting lipstick on a pig.
As important as structure is, it’s not often talked about. People love talking about what words to use (or avoid), how to make your writing more engaging, the “hook”, etc.
But I guess structure is boring. There’s not a lot of info out there on how to structure writing or how to fix a badly structured article.
So I put together some tips for you.
How to Prevent Structural Issues in Writing
- Outline. Always, always, always start with an outline. Note: a good outline is not just a list of subheadings. A good outline lists most of the points you’ll cover in your article. This way you can make sure each point is relevant, in a logical order, and in the right section.
- Add temporary “placeholder” transitional sentences to your outline. Why does section 2 follow section 1? “Now that we’re on the same page with definitions, let’s go over a brief history,” or “Now that you know why plugin X is the best, let’s go over how to install it.”
- Every list should have a logical order. Yes, even “random” listicles. What order is your list in? Easiest to hardest, simplest to most complex, first to last, shortest to longest, chronological, etc.
Preventing structural issues is a bit easier than fixing them. So, here’s a bigger list for you…
How to Identify & Fix Structural Issues When Editing
Use your intuition.
Are you feeling “lost in the weeds” as you read? That’s probably due to structural issues.
Summarize every section as you go. Kind of a reverse-outline. “This section talks about the benefits of this feature, then the drawbacks. Then another benefit?” Structural issue.
- Does every subheading belong in this article?
- Are the subheadings internally consistent?
- Are any subheadings repetitive or overlapping?
- Are you discussing points in detail before defining them first?
- Are any points repeated in different sections? Why? Could they be consolidated?
- Does all the information in a section fit with the subheading? Or do some paragraphs not belong? Could they be moved to a different or new section, or could they be deleted entirely?
- Does each section logically flow into the next? Or are they out of order?
- Are there transitions between sections? If you’re having trouble coming up with a transition, the order may not be logical.
- ALL lists should have a logical order. Not just ordered/step-by-step lists. What order is the list in?