What Goes into a Quality Article?

So now you've got all this knowledge, what do you do with it? Write articles of course! Any child can write, but it takes a bit of work to Write. Yes, that's right Write. Capitalized. People seem to have the oddest notions about what goes into an article, and especially how long it should be. That's why I'm writing this. Yes, you are reading an article on how to write an article.

How do you want your writing to feel? There are basically two forms of writing: serious and familiar. When deciding which one, think about what the article is for; if you are going to be writing a research paper, you want it to be serious, but if you are writing an article to teach, it can be either. I feel that the longer articles need some humour, because with out it the reader gets bored and leaves.

What sort of site are you going to post this on? By this I mean, what sort of people are you writing for? Are you writing for total beginners, or more advanced psions? If you're writing for newbies you're going to need to define every term you use. Don't expect a newbie to know what pk is. You'll need to write out the whole term: psychokinesis.

Still rolling with pk, try to avoid excessive abbreviations. They make a good article look like an informal forum post. If you really think about it, some abbreviations are actually longer than their synonyms. For example, aka, which means also known as, is synonymous to 'or!' There are a few acceptable abbreviations, such as ex., or i.e. however, refrain from using them too much. Abbreviations just look bad.

You'll be doing 2 parts of your prewrite. The first part of the prewrite is research. Research is when you go out and study your topic. Read every article you can find on your subject, then talk to people about it on forums. You need to very well versed on your topic. Then, before you actually get to write any of the words you'll need to fill in an outline. This will contain all of your ideas. Just brain-storm here, no need for complete sentences. No one else will see it...promise.

Your article MUST be in paragraph format. If it is one solid block of text, it will be impossible to read. There are two ways a paragraph format works: indentions, and skipping lines. The indentions are the best to use, however most websites stretch, or squish their articles when they actually get onto the site, so the indentions are useless. The one most commonly found in websites is line skipping, this is where you push the return button TWICE, and only twice. More than that, you are just trying to make your article look longer. Paragraphs make up the article, before you build a house you need to get the bricks and wood!

There are three basic pieces of writing. They are found in essays, paragraphs, and even sentences. They are introduction, details, and conclusion. Think of it as a hamburger: Top bun is the introduction, meat, cheese and vegetables are the details, and the bottom bun is the conclusion. Many people don't understand this, they just try to pour details out onto the page and call it a paragraph. For example, looking at my previous paragraph: I had one sentence telling them what would be inside the paragraph: Your article MUST be in paragraph form. Then I have four sentences of details, and a short little snippet of conclusion. You wouldn't put a hamburger patty, cheese, and a piece of lettuce on your plate and call it a hamburger would you? No you have to have buns! This means that each paragraph has to be at least 3 sentences long.

First comes the introduction. This is where you will explain what the skill is, why learn it, and how it works. You may also take this time to give a SHORT bio about you. Don't go over board, no offence but, no one really cares. They clicked on the link to this article so that they could learn about psionics, not you. Your introduction needs to have a catchy lead. Somehow you need to reel them in to read the rest of your article. The introduction is the first thing anyone will see when reading your article. You better make it good.

I'm going to skip ahead to the conclusion, because it and the introduction are very similar. You see, in the introduction you told them what you were going to tell them, now in the conclusion you are going to tell them what you told them. The conclusion is where you put final thoughts on the topic because, if you think about it, the conclusion is the last place for you to have your say. The conclusion is also a place to leave them with a word of wisdom. Quotes are always fun, and they add a nice touch to your article. My favourite site for this is Quote Garden.

The details are the most complicated, and most important part of the article. A quality article needs at least three detail paragraphs: First come warnings. There is something dangerous with every psionic skill, and the reader deserves to be told of the risks and other dangers. After that you have the techniques. This is the 'how-to' portion of the article, you'll be giving the reader various ways to practise your skill. Finally tips, or q and a; you give them practise tips, and/or you give them common questions and answers to those common questions. You get a choice over the third paragraph. The other two parts are equally necessary, however this last part has two options. I prefer to do both, but do whatever you want. Also keep in mind that what I have up there isn't all there is, this is just what is necessary.

You've poured all these words out into paragraphs, all with an introduction, details, and a conclusion. Time to publish right? WRONG!! You haven't edited yet! Editing is what you do at the end. Editing is what turns your article into a finished product. However, editing can be a scary process. Looking over your 700 words and scanning it for mistakes can take forever, so here is what I do: I write each paragraph then go back and read it, checking for spelling and grammatical errors, then make sure it has a conclusion, introduction, and details. After I have written (and edited) the whole article, I go back and read it again. Then I get someone else to read it. We both watch for sentence fluency, and then it gets posted onto a site.

Here is a little know fact: parentheses/round brackets are BAD. They show an afterthought, however in am instructional article you don't want any afterthought. What you're trying to do is explain your technique or theory to someone who doesn't understand it. Turn those parentheses into new sentences, or do my personal favourite: the comma.

The comma [,] can be used for various things. When you are listing something, when interjecting something, or when linking two ideas together, but for this last one you'll also need a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so just to name a few). Commas are something very powerful. They have many uses, but they aren't something that you through into your sentences. When editing you also need to make sure that you only use ONE end mark per sentence. This: !!! is bad, so is this ???, and so is this !?!, however ... is not bad. ...'s are called ellipses. If you want to express an emotion, express it through in your writing, not in your punctuation. Apostrophes can only be used in two instances: when you are showing ownership, and when you are showing a contraction. Not when you are making something plural. On a bit of a side note, do not WRITE IN ALL CAPS. That's what italics/bold is for.

You've reached the end of the writing process, now all you have left to do is create a title. A title can make, or break your article. You want your title to really pop out at the reader. If you have a boring title, it will be assumed that you will have a boring article. Watch the length of your title as well, don't describe the contents of your article -that is what the introduction is for! Five words is probably the maximum number of characters to put in your title.

Doesn't that feel wonderful? You've written your first article! It is wonderful, or at least it should be...with me as your teacher! Writing an article, CAN be a fun experience, and the real fun comes from having people read it and learn from it. " There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein." ~Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith.