Patterns - Step 4 – Organize

7 Steps to Better Writing - Charles Maxwell 2020

Step 4 – Organize

If you are not required to follow a prescribed template, consider using one of the following structured approaches.

Development Patterns

Evaluate how your major points support your theme and determine which of the following development patterns best serve your purpose.

· Chronological — good for relating events and telling stories

· Spatial — good for describing geography, real estate, buildings, machines, plants, animals, geology, outer space, or other items where it is important to understand objects in space and how they relate to other objects

· Logical — good for explaining causation and rationale

· Lists — good for providing evidence

With each pattern, consider whether is it better to move from the general to the specific or to move from the specific to the general.

Analyzing Problems

Another useful pattern is the problem/solution model. This consists of:

· State the problem

· Describe the problem

· Identify causes

· Propose solutions

· Justify the best solution

Proposing Change

When proposing change:

· Show the need for change

· State the objectives

· Show steps to achieve the objectives

· Illustrate the superiority of the specified action

· Identify who should take action

· Provide a schedule and a cost estimate for the action


When writing about an idea that is hard for your readers to accept:

· Establish your credibility

· Cite your experience, training, and certification

· Say why the new information or behavior change is important

· Tell your readers how they will benefit

· Conclude by asking your readers to take specific action by a definite date

Explaining Complex Topics

When writing on complex topics:

· Introduce and summarize the topic

· Provide an explanation of all important parts or aspects

· Explain how the pieces come together or interact

· Make clear recommendations

· Conclude with a restatement

Sales Copy

A powerful pattern for selling is:

· Gain attention

· Summarize your offer

· Make a promise — describe the benefits of the offer

· Provide proof — cite technical and personal evidence supporting the promise (testimonials)

· Make a call to action — invite the prospect to take advantage of the offer

Copywriters use many variations of this pattern to sell products and services.

Consider Your Audience’s Agreement and Interest

If your audience agrees with you, present new information to strengthen existing opinions and to maintain interest. If the audience disagrees with your ideas, then give both sides of the argument.

If the audience is not interested in the argument, place the strongest points first and be brief. On the other hand, when the audience is interested, provide more information and place your strongest points last.

Present Testimonials

When providing evidence from people:

· Draw testimonials from those with whom the readers identify

· Consider the effect that the mention of other persons will have on your readers and upon your credibility—some references will strengthen your standing, while others will undermine your authority

Other Suggestions

Furthermore, do the following:

· Avoid sensational claims and hyperbole

· Use great care when using satire and irony—these techniques are easily misunderstood and can backfire