How to Write a Decent Article

Here’s a question that may seem dumb. Are you ready? Alright.

What, exactly, is an article?

The last time I asked myself that question, it embarrassed me how long it took for me to come up with a decent answer. We throw the word around, but do we actually remember what articles are?

I like to call them debate pieces. An article can be about anything, but the goal is to either convince your reader about something, or teach them how to do something.

So they are not necessarily opinion pieces, though those can be considered articles if they aim to prove a point or drop some knowledge.

With that in mind, it must be said that I read many articles that upset me. First, make sure it’s actually an article and not a review or a personal essay.  And next, think about your style. Usually when I’m skimming magazines, I glace through an article to get a feel for how it reads. If you’re writing about cake baking, then I am going to skip it if your word choices and pacing gives me more of a “terms and conditions” feel.

You’ll need to decide whether your topic calls for a conversational style or not. With more relaxed topics, you won’t need to be quite as strict with grammar. In fact, writing the way you actually talk (within reason) would be the best way to go, like I’m doing here. However, something more serious or educational in nature will require the textbook (or dare I say, legal document) sound.

Length is another factor. Great articles aren’t too short or too long. Now, that’s the tricky part. I can’t really tell you exactly how long is too long. It depends on your topic, where you will be publishing the piece, and the audience. However, I will say that you’re better off writing a longer piece than a short one in many cases.

Look, if I’m going to commit to sitting down and reading an article, there had better be some meat in it. Your reader shouldn’t feel like they’ve been kicked out of the restaurant while still munching appetizers. Don’t pad your articles with fluff, though. That’s equally off-putting. Do you research and fill your piece with useful information that’s written in an engaging way, and gives the reader a full mental meal to go off and digest.

If your article is looking good on those counts, then you’ll have many more readers, and they can peacefully mull over the actual content of the piece and decide whether they agree with it, or whether its a waste of their time.