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In the 40 years I’ve been writing professionally, this simple formula for organizing an article has never failed me. Once you have your outline in place, your writing will flow—and editors will be eager to accept your piece.
Complete these six sentence as they relate to your idea. (As an example, I offer my outline of an article I sold to Reader’s Digest in 1987 titled “The Best Gift We Can Give.”)
I want to say . . .
● that “being there” for people is the ultimate expression of love.
● when we are truly present for others, important things happen for them and for us.
3. Audience Awareness
I think readers will be interested in my idea because . . .
● life is fuller and richer when human beings connect with one another in meaningful ways.
4. Take-Home Value
I want to give readers . . .
● hope and help for navigating successful relationships. I will include real-life examples.
5. Action Points
I want to provide three helpful suggestions for implementing my idea . . .
1. Be positive about invitations, ready to accept them.
2. Go out of your way to connect with people, even when it presents a challenge.
3. Make amends directly to the person when you can’t participate, in order to enhance and deepen your relationship.
I want to wrap up my article with . . .
● an anecdote that illustrates my point. I will share what happened between my husband and me one summer day in the mountains when he called me outside our cabin to share the sunset with him.
Apply this formula to your key article ideas and see what happens.
Karen O’Connor is an award-winning author of 60 books and hundreds of articles for children and adults, a retreat and conference speaker, and a writing instructor with 25 years of experience. Her most recent books are It’s Taken Years to Get This Old and 365 Reasons Why Gettin’ Old Ain’t So Bad.
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