Many people have contacted me since Care To Share Magazine began to say that they would love to contribute an article, that they have some very strong views about certain aspects of care but that they just don’t know how to put it all into words. So this little list is for all those people who need ideas to ‘hang their articles on’. Even the most convoluted and complicated messages can become straightforward if you have a structure. So here are a few ideas.
Start with a ‘hook’
Articles work best when there’s a hook – a link to something topical, emotive or maybe even controversial that can draw your readers in from the start. Watch the news or read the newspapers and monitor your reactions to what you read. Some of the best articles in Care To Share have come from that sort of hook.
Maybe you want to tell a story – ‘human interest’ pieces can be a hook too. If that’s the case remember the old maxim from your schooldays. Stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. Plan out what you want to say and the order in which you’ll say it.
Say something surprising or that challenges the status quo. As they say in Fleet Street – ‘Dog bites man’ isn’t a story but ‘Man bites dog’ most definitely is. Can you bring a fresh perspective to an old idea? If so we want to hear about it.
Have a plan
Sometimes it’s OK to just sit down and let the words flow. That sort of spontaneous writing can produce some truly marvellous ‘from the heart’ articles. But if you’re reading this then that’s probably not your best option. If it worked that way for you then you’d be composing your article right now rather than reading about techniques.
Build on the ‘beginning, middle and end, idea’ to plan individual paragraphs, each one building upon the one before to lead your reader from point A (the beginning) through points B (the middle) to point C (the end).
Don’t say too much. The best articles only really make one or two points. Any more than that and they become confusing. Remember that the point of a short article isn’t to teach a topic in depth (that’s what textbooks are for). Articles should make single, isolated points. Be clear what you want to say from the outset and stick to the plan.
Have a clear theme or context
This is similair to the hook (see above). Articles work best when they relate to a particular theme. That lets the reader make sense of your message – to put it into a context. For example you might write about….
Good care is developed from foundational principles. Some social care practice is good at sticking to these principles and some is not. Look around you – what do you see that’s good? What isn’t so positive? If you can identify the relevant principle you can write about it. Perhaps you know of a care worker who’s brilliant at making person-centred practice a reality. Perhaps the opposite is true.
Respect for rights;
Whatever else you think is worth writing about.
This is a great way to give your article structure. Events can include:
A day in the life of….;
My first day at work;
The day that….;
Why this event changed my perspective on….;
When Katy did this;
Your idea may be the basis of a truly ground breaking proposal. And we’d like to hear about it. Your idea might be:
What I’ve learned since….;
A better way to do this….;
How they do things in this other place….;
If I were in charge I’d….;
Top tips for doing this….;
The impact of this policy on these people;
A new meme taking social media by storm;
This recent news story reminds me of the time that (hook to lead into an event story);
Do we really believe this…..
However you structure your article we want to read it. Please feel free to send it to Stuart Sorensen (editor) at firstname.lastname@example.org but check the Authors’ guidelines first to get a feel for the length and boundaries (no libel, abuse or blatant advertising etc).
Enjoy your writing. You too can have your say!