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


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

  1. 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. 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.

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