You’ve probably heard of the “5 Ws” journalism students learn early on: “Who? What? When? Where? Why?” Often an “H” is added for “How?”. These questions help keep the writer focused on telling the story in a concise, straightforward way.
I have an additional set of “W” questions for writers, bloggers, and others who want or need to reach and influence readers. The first “W” in the sequence is: What’s your theme?
It sounds really basic, but I believe it’s a helpful practice to, as Steven Covey used to say, “Keep the end in mind.” What is your goal in sharing this story? Is it to inspire someone to take action, like giving a donation, signing up to volunteer, or write a letter to an elected official? Is it to sway your audience’s opinion? Is it to motivate someone to buy something, or click on a link?
In the same way we are encouraged in our professional lives to come up with elevator pitches to hook someone’s attention and explain what we’re about in just a couple of minute’s time, I encourage people with stories to tell to come up with their own one- or two-sentence theme (or goal, if you prefer) before they start to write. Read more