LexPower

How to Begin Your Story?

Posted on: April 5, 2010

When you are writing a document, how do you begin to tell your story? How do you snag your readers’ attention and charm them enough to keep them reading?

The beginning of your document is the critical point where you must engage your readers’ interest. If the beginning isn’t good, it will also quickly become the end, and your attempt to communicate with your audience will fall far short of the mark.

So, how to begin? The short answer is that there is no definitive answer; it all depends on the following, which you defined in the planning phase of your project:

  • type of document
  • audience
  • purpose of the document

For example, if you are writing a report, you might start with an executive summary, in which you present the gist of your research, conclusions and recommendations.

On the other hand, if you are writing a user guide, you could start with an overview of the product, its intended audience, ways of using the product, and other useful “getting started” information for your company’s customers.

In a memo, you may decide that opening with a summary of results or conclusions would work best for your audience.

In other types of documents, you could begin by presenting a theme, or opening with a question, or stating a problem, or by providing an answer.

What all these ways of starting a document have in common is that they must give your readers a general sense of where you are going and how you intend to get there. You need to manage their expectations and get your document off on the right foot to accomplish your communication objectives. So think of your opening as a sort of “roadmap,” with the details to follow.

There are no absolutes in how to begin a document, because each type of document has its own requirements, as well as its intended audience and objectives. So put your thinking cap on and nail this part first, before you begin the first draft.

Now it’s your turn, dear reader: What is your approach to beginning a document? Please comment on your most successful method.  Elizabeth Lexleigh  lexpower  The Write Ideas

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