1. Plan what you want to communicate before writing

Jot down the following things:

  1. Purpose of the communication
  2. Identify your audience and what information is important to them
  3. Your initial and important thoughts and ideas as a bulleted list
2. Create the structure of your story as an outline of the inverted pyramid

Create an outline for each section of your story based on the inverted pyramid. Here are tips for what to include in each section:

  1. The News Hook (the lead or beginning)
    1. The lead should include the critical piece of newsworthy information that will capture the attention and interest of the reader
    2. It should have answers to two or more of the following questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?
  2. Body (the middle)
    1. Elaborate and expand on the news hook with details in diminishing order of importance. However, don’t let details obscure the main issues.
    2. Ground your content in facts
  3. Close (the end) – End with general information the reader may find interesting or nice to have
3. Convert the outlines and into a first draft
  1. Section headers
    1. Help key points to stand out with the use of headings and sub-headings.
    2. Headings and subheadings should be selected carefully and should give your readers a clue about what they are going to read. Keep the headings and sub-headings short. Even if the section headings are not desired in the finished piece, they still help you as an author to structure your writing.
  2. Paragraphs
    1. Keep to one idea per paragraph. Each paragraph, excluding the lead and the close, is devoted exclusively to a particular sub-topic in the piece.
    2. Limit paragraphs to a few sentences. Paragraphs with less than 10 lines are easier to read.
    3. Besides the very common words, try not to repeat any word over and over again within a paragraph. It gets repetitive and doesn’t reflect well on your vocabulary. Don’t hesitate to use a thesaurus!
    4. Ask yourself the following questions after writing each paragraph:
      1. What am I trying to say here?
      2. Could I have put it more shortly and more clearly?
      3. Does it flow well?
      4. Have I said anything that is unnecessary or not clear?
      5. Have I said anything that will upset the reader?
  3. Sentences
    1. A sentence should convey a single thought.
    2. Keep the sentences short, no more than 30 to 40 words, but they shouldn’t be choppy. Sentences with more than 40 words should normally be split.
    3. Remove unnecessary words. Words such as "very", "just", "quite", "perhaps", "maybe" and "really" should not be used.
    4. Break lengthy information into bulleted lists.
    5. Never use the passive voice (“Bones are liked by dogs”) where you can use the active voice (“Dogs like bones”).
4. Complete the first draft by carefully checking spelling and grammer
5. Iterate, improve, revise
  1. Accept that the first draft is almost always crap. Even the best writers have to spend a lot of time reworking material to make it simple, clear and direct. Be tough on yourself, and learn when to delete or rework something.
  2. Always read and review what you have written. Edit the story through several revisions, honing the text until it is just right.
  3. Strive to explain and make things a little bit clearer.
  4. If possible, leave it overnight for your mind to reassess it.
Elements of Writing

In general, there are three aspects to all written communication:

  1. Structure: the way the content is laid out
  2. Style: the way it is written, or the language used
  3. Content: what you are writing about
Inverted Pyramid