Have you ever experienced a time when you were reading a compelling story and you were waiting for the explanation of its importance… and that never comes?
You invest in a story that may feel purely like entertainment when what you were trying to get out of it is information.
For now, I’m going to be addressing specifically journalistic writing.
I’ll be addressing it with the intent that fantasy/fiction storytelling does not need a reason to be written.
Fantasy/fiction storytelling is more obviously to entertain and for the writer to express a theoretical world they think others might be attracted to.
As for the journalistic side of questioning whether it is worth it or not, this can often be disregarded and people like me question why what we wrote didn’t gain any traction.
The first question to ask is why
When asking this question, I don’t mean why did the piece you wrote not get traction. Why did you write it in the first place?
There must be some importance you saw in it for taking the time to write about it.
Is it a recent story? Is it big news that involves large audiences?
Or was it just a gut feeling?
Keep asking this question or else the gaps to this answer will be the falling points of the story itself.
We ask about who, what, when, where and why yet when it comes to writing for information and infotainment purposes, the most important question always seems to be why.
Taking an event for an example; is simply telling that this event has occurred important enough to make you need to write about it and for audiences to feel the need to read additionally about it?
Maybe there is more information that can be added to what we already know about this topic.
Maybe what we’ve been told about this event’s importance has changed with time and the way it’s viewed now is drastically different.
Just talking and mentioning information or describing an event that is already a well-known event can on occasion become useless.
Coverage of anything needs to have answered why because this is the backing point for making what you are writing not only for it to have a purpose to you and those who you want to read it. But to also give a reason for the piece to exist in the first place.
Ask who does it concern
We’re told a lot to take into account our audience.
If it’s journalistic writing, we know that the audience is always taken into account for reader purposes to get the most attention to a piece. But this is far from the only reason to consider an audience.
I’ve come to misunderstand that as simply writing the type of people, I feel can understand the point I am trying to get to when they may have no interest at all.
Even if my style is explaining something to a friend I have in mind, do they care?
The anchoring point of thinking about your audience is how well they know what you are writing about and if you bring anything new to the table.
I mentioned the first question to always ask is why, but now interpret the who into why that audience might care enough to read what you’ve written.
When addressing smaller audiences, you can still attempt to inspire the masses of that group, but remember experts or hobbyists in these audiences can be vain as to what they consider something to read.
Additionally, even if you are writing about new information or a new perspective for an audience to witness, a human element has to be present in the story.
Maybe something surprised you more than you thought it would and you can enlarge that idea for the audience to relate to.
We know that we are writing to people, but the purpose of considering them when writing is an attempt to keep a conversation with them while understanding they will constantly be having their own personal responses and judgments in their head.
Let them have these judgments and predict these before and pretend to be part of the audience when reading your own work.
Question if the why and who care about the effect of this piece
Another element to consider is closely related to the timeliness of a piece. But more so to analyze the possible outcomes of what it is you are talking about.
There is always a sequel to something happening or something being created.
Explain how an event happened and what new outcomes from this event will take place and what will most likely happen next.
A whole example would be to first ask if the piece informed on something new or innovative that most people in this specific community have not yet heard about. But then take the time to make sure there is something else to explain for the future.
Is this product going to bankrupt other companies?
Does it present a new idea or method that gives people a takeaway to try this idea themselves?
We all know about the call to action, but if there is no possible call to action to create, give a thought to store in your audience to make them feel after they have read your piece that they can witness it happen along with you.
Again this is another portion of the human element in relation to time. We all experience the same great discoveries and new products at the same time but we can still take the time to discuss what this might take us to next.
Whatever you write has to not only answer why it is important but also why this importance will remain or become even more important later on.
While these are three things to think about and to help question whether what you are writing will be seen as necessary, there are many more things to consider.
What I have talked about is broad and there is always more specifics to add to each of these and I have attempted to explain the main purpose behind each.
If there is one key takeaway, just remember whenever you are writing, a focus on structure, grammar, voice and whatever else does all matter. But these won’t matter if the reason for a piece needing those improvements is clear and understandable by you and your audience.