The Golden Rule of Writing

Author : RyanFeest
Publish Date : 2021-04-05


The Golden Rule of Writing

To get someplace, you need to know where to start and where you want to go.

The first time I visited Paris, I arrived to a steady drizzle and a transit strike. I took a cab to the Left Bank but didn't know where to go. I left my friend's contact information at home. I schlepped around, getting soggy while I carried two bags. I studied the maps in my Plan de Paris, hoping I would recognize the name of my friend's street. But I didn't.

Finally, someone in a travel agency helped me. She found a hotel and pointed to our location on the map. After I called home to get my friend's contact information, the travel agent showed me my friend's apartment on the map. I was just a block and a half away.

Once I knew where I was-and where I was going-everything worked well. The next morning, I had my coffee and croissant, called my friend, and made plans to meet. She helped me find an apartment. With my Plan de Paris in my pocket, I never got lost.

Writing works like that. If you know where to start and finish a journey, you will never get lost or disoriented. Neither will your readers.

That's the Golden Rule of The Writer's Code. At every level of writing-the sentence, the paragraph, the section, the chapter, the article, the report, the book-always start and finish strongly. Take a clear journey from one point to another. If you always know where to begin, and where to end, you'll never fail.

What does it mean to "start strong, finish strong" in writing?

You know the expression "You only have one chance to make a first impression." Your opening words make your first impression on the reader. You have just a couple paragraphs to connect with the reader. If you falter, you might never win over your reader.

So how do we "start strong"? Tell your reader, right away, who's doing what. Give the reader a strong subject and verb. Don't waste precious time or space. Don't set up your thoughts with background information ("After a long summer of... ") or attributions ("According to... "). Get started, right away.

Look how The New York Times began accounts of three major news events-the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, and the terrorist attacks of 9/11:

 


Sudden and unexpected attacks on Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, and other United States possessions in the Pacific early yesterday by the Japanese air force and navy plunged the United States and Japan into active war.

 

America wept tonight, not alone for its dead young president but for itself.

Today's devastating and astonishingly well-coordinated attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York and the Pentagon outside of Washington plunged the nation into a warlike struggle against an enemy that will be hard to identify with certainty and hard to punish with precision.

 

The first three or four words bring you right into the story. These leads tell you what matters, right away.

And what does "finish strong" mean? To conclude a passage-whatever the length-leave the reader with a powerful thought, image, or question.

Take another look at the Times leads for those historic events. See how they end: "plunged the U.S. and Japan into active war," "wept for itself," and "hard to identify with certainty and hard to punish with precision." Each completes the thought, with provocative, even surprising, points.

So where do you put all the other information, like background information and attributions? Easy: In the middle.

The material in the middle completes the picture. It bridges the start and the finish. The Pearl Harbor and 9/11 leads give us the facts we need to make sense of the beginning and ending. The middle of the Kennedy lead is more interpretive, gently casting doubt on what we think (that our sorrow is for Kennedy and his family) before concluding with another idea.

Why does this matter? Two reasons.

First, you need a clear idea of your journey, at every stage of the writing process. No one achieves much without a compelling goal. Jonas Salk could not cure polio without a clear goal. Neil Armstrong could not walk on the moon without a clear goal. Columbus could not discover America without a clear goal.

Oops. Actually, as we all know, Columbus wanted to find a direct route to India. But note this: He followed a clear goal. Sometimes you set a goal and achieve something else. That's fine. But you need a goal for everything you do-including writing great sentences, paragraphs, and more. A goal provides a destination.

The Golden Rule works because, as neuroscientists have discovered, we remember the first and last things we see and hear. When you read a sentence that starts with verve, you remember it. And when you read a sentence that ends with verve, you remember it.

Look at this image, which shows the eye movements of readers scanning a webpage. As you can see, readers almost always look at the left side of the page, where the sentences begin. The eyes often leap out to ends of the sentences, on the right side of the page. Only occasionally do they track all the words in a sentence.

The eyes tell you what you need to know. Start and end with your best stuff. Also, make it easy for the reader to find your beginnings and endings. How? By keeping a majority of your sentences short.

Every element of writing is a mini-drama. Someone does something to someone (or something, somewhere, sometime, somehow, for some reason). Make that drama clear and compelling. Show you reader who's acting, what they're doing, and what happens as a result.

The Writing Code offers a complete system for mastering writing.

Like other dynamic systems of learning-e.g., Hooked on Phonics, Rosetta Stone, and The Total Transformation-The Writing Code offers a simple, intuitive, and powerful system to master a difficult challenge.

The Writing Code wipes away jargon and abstraction and offers a simple strategy. Backed by the latest research on learning and the brain, The Writing Code delivers results right away.

[http://www.thewritingcodesystem.com]

To get someplace, you need to know where to start and where you want to go.

The first time I visited Paris, I arrived to a steady drizzle and a transit strike. I took a cab to the Left Bank but didn't know where to go. I left my friend's contact information at home. I schlepped around, getting soggy while I carried two bags. I studied the maps in my Plan de Paris, hoping I would recognize the name of my friend's street. But I didn't.

Finally, someone in a travel agency helped me. She found a hotel and pointed to our location on the map. After I called home to get my friend's contact information, the travel agent showed me my friend's apartment on the map. I was just a block and a half away.

Once I knew where I was-and where I was going-everything worked well. The next morning, I had my coffee and croissant, called my friend, and made plans to meet. She helped me find an apartment. With my Plan de Paris in my pocket, I never got lost.

Writing works like that. If you know where to start and finish a journey, you will never get lost or disoriented. Neither will your readers.

That's the Golden Rule of The Writer's Code. At every level of writing-the sentence, the paragraph, the section, the chapter, the article, the report, the book-always start and finish strongly. Take a clear journey from one point to another. If you always know where to begin, and where to end, you'll never fail.

What does it mean to "start strong, finish strong" in writing?

You know the expression "You only have one chance to make a first impression." Your opening words make your first impression on the reader. You have just a couple paragraphs to connect with the reader. If you falter, you might never win over your reader.

So how do we "start strong"? Tell your reader, right away, who's doing what. Give the reader a strong subject and verb. Don't waste precious time or space. Don't set up your thoughts with background information ("After a long summer of... ") or attributions ("According to... "). Get started, right away.

Look how The New York Times began accounts of three major news events-the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, and the terrorist attacks of 9/11:

 


Sudden and unexpected attacks on Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, and other United States possessions in the Pacific early yesterday by the Japanese air force and navy plunged the United States and Japan into active war.

 

America wept tonight, not alone for its dead young president but for itself.

Today's devastating and astonishingly well-coordinated attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York and the Pentagon outside of Washington plunged the nation into a warlike struggle against an enemy that will be hard to identify with certainty and hard to punish with precision.

 

The first three or four words bring you right into the story. These leads tell you what matters, right away.

And what does "finish strong" mean? To conclude a passage-whatever the length-leave the reader with a powerful thought, image, or question.

Take another look at the Times leads for those historic events. See how they end: "plunged the U.S. and Japan into active war," "wept for itself," and "hard to identify with certainty and hard to punish with precision." Each completes the thought, with provocative, even surprising, points.

So where do you put all the other information, like background information and attributions? Easy: In the middle.

The material in the middle completes the picture. It bridges the start and the finish. The Pearl Harbor and 9/11 leads give us the facts we need to make sense of the beginning and ending. The middle of the Kennedy lead is more interpretive, gently casting doubt on what we think (that our sorrow is for Kennedy and his family) before concluding with another idea.

Why does this matter? Two reasons.

First, you need a clear idea of your journey, at every stage of the writing process. No one achieves much without a compelling goal. Jonas Salk could not cure polio without a clear goal. Neil Armstrong could not walk on the moon without a clear goal. Columbus could not discover America without a clear goal.

Oops. Actually, as we all know, Columbus wanted to find a direct route to India. But note this: He followed a clear goal. Sometimes you set a goal and achieve something else. That's fine. But you need a goal for everything you do-including writing great sentences, paragraphs, and more. A goal provides a destination.

The Golden Rule works because, as neuroscientists have discovered, we remember the first and last things we see and hear. When you read a sentence that starts with verve, you remember it. And when you read a sentence that ends with verve, you remember it.

Look at this image, which shows the eye movements of readers scanning a webpage. As you can see, readers almost always look at the left side of the page, where the sentences begin. The eyes often leap out to ends of the sentences, on the right side of the page. Only occasionally do they track all the words in a sentence.

The eyes tell you what you need to know. Start and end with your best stuff. Also, make it easy for the reader to find your beginnings and endings. How? By keeping a majority of your sentences short.

Every element of writing is a mini-drama. Someone does something to someone (or something, somewhere, sometime, somehow, for some reason). Make that drama clear and compelling. Show you reader who's acting, what they're doing, and what h



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