Sixty second writing tips: spinning the writing pyramid

One of the best writing lessons I ever had came from a guy named Richard Adler, then Professor of English at the University of Montana.

I wasn’t in the land of dental floss wranglers at the time – Prof. Adler was out here in New Zealand on a Fulbright Scholarhship. And in just half an hour he delivered lessons about writing that brought everything else I’d been formally taught together.

One of those lessons was to use the standard ‘inverted pyramid’ structure. Start broad, narrow down. It’s a good structure to draw the reader – and also means you, as author, must first work out what the over-arching ‘organising principle’ of your content actually is. This saves a HUGE amount of re-work – trust me! So it’s doubly effective, and  it applies to absolutely every kind of writing.

I use it all the time, and these days add a twist of my own. Add a hook line at the beginning to draw the reader – a detail squib that piques interest, before showing them the broad canvas and then letting them explore down to the detail as they read.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013

About these ads

8 comments on “Sixty second writing tips: spinning the writing pyramid

  1. MishaBurnett says:

    That’s actually how I started Catskinner’s Book–with the overarching cosmology, and then made it particular.

    Bonus points for the obscure Zappa reference.

  2. wordpress123 says:

    Does this hold true if you’re actually writing about Pyramids??;)

  3. KM Huber says:

    Definitely from the general to the specific here and like the idea and I am always on the lookout for the hook and am happy when I have a working one. Another fine post, Matthew.
    KM

  4. That is an excellent tip!

  5. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    This is so simple, it should obvious to every writer.

Join the discussion!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s