Are your readers getting your point?

Five ways to connect the dots when you write.

Five ways to connect the dots when you write

When I was a little kid I used to love those coloring books that were blank except for a sprinkling of numbers on the page. You’d locate the number one, take your pencil and carefully draw a line to number two. Then you’d advance to three, four, five and so on. And when you’d finally connected all the dots, a picture would emerge. For a 6-year-old, pure magic!

But connect-the-dots isn’t just a game for kids. It’s also a metaphor for the mindset you should adopt when you write. It means asking yourself: Is my writing clear enough? Will readers get my point? Is my reasoning unambiguous? In other words, have I adequately connected the dots? Here’s a five-item checklist to help you find out:

1. Have I explained my anecdotes?

I always encourage people to make their writing more interesting by weaving in stories, examples and anecdotes. But when you do, you need to make sure your readers understand the point. In the anecdote that launched this newsletter, for example, I used a bridging sentence (“connect-the-dots isn’t just a game for kids”) to make the association clear. You can also sometimes do this with a single word such as: “similarly” or “likewise.”

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.