Short Form RevisionistSome beginning content creators fail to see the challenge in short form writing. The low word count seems like a cake-walk, and the impulse is to string together words while knocking around SEO-heavy facts until the word limit is reached. What results is a sloppy and disjointed article that reads more like spam than salable content. If writers take some extra time to revise and pay attention to structure, however, the short form can be mastered while maintaining a profitable productivity level.

A good first step is to accept that even in short form writing, you will still produce a rough draft, followed by a few more drafts. The rough draft will be a sandbox, and you must sift out what is and isn’t important to the piece. Because the article is so short, inevitably the amount of information and quotes gathered from research will far exceed the word count, and the best way to organize is to just start writing, with the understanding that all will be set straight with revision. Information overload can also be managed by adhering to an outlining structure that helps you outline and organize the information.

I have found pairing two basic composition concepts, the five paragraph essay and the Five W’s and One H, most useful when structuring short content pieces. From the five paragraph tradition, we see that a piece needs a hook or thesis that will bait the article’s logical progression of a beginning, middle, and end. The Five W’s and One H (who, what, when, where, why, and how) can then be divided into the three sections and dictate what sort of information is conveyed in each section. For example, the beginning will encompass the hook as well as the who, what, when, and where of the article’s subject. The middle will explore the why and the how that provides the subject’s background information. With all the Five W’s and One H’s addressed, it is around here that articles drift off as word counts are achieved and the ending section becomes truncated and rushed. However, there is one more important component that should be reported, and that is the “and then.” If you are reporting about a finding or a study, the information is never conclusive and there are always future projections or expectations hinging on further data/research that may further prove or disprove the information currently being reported. This encompasses the “and then” element that should formulate the ending paragraph.

Even with these elements in mind, however, it may still be hard to logically convey information in the first or even second drafts; you will find things will be written out of order. Sometimes the hook will reveal itself in the conclusion. For instance, in writing this piece, I had an idea of what needed to be conveyed, but I didn’t reach what would become the actual hook until the very last sentence in my rough draft. This is why, regardless whether the writing is a 450 word medical blog content piece or a 5,000 word exposé, revision is a necessary key to effective and informative writing.

by Selena C.