This page supplements material from my book 7 Steps to Better Writing. It provides videos that amplify the chapter “Step 4 – Organize.”
In the following video, Conrad van Dyk explains how to cluster the ideas you generated through research (step 2) and brainstorming (step 3).
The following four videos show how to prepare an outline. Remember the purpose of an outline is to organize your ideas and produce a document, not to produce a beautiful outline. The outline is only a tool.
In the following video, Jacob Lauritzen explains—in the context of a high school or college essay—how to construct a basic outline. This principle applies equally well to other writing situations.
The following video discusses how to prepare an outline for a scientific research paper.
In the following video, Conrad van Dyk shares several ways to use Microsoft Word to create an outline. Using header levels to construct an outline both organizes your ideas and gets you started writing your document.
In the following video, Kevin deLaplante explains that your outline likely will change as you work on a document. As you write, your thinking matures; and as your thoughts advance, you will revise both your document and your outline.
He also says that the importance of an outline will grow as the length and complexity of a document grows.
The following 7-minute video discusses common patterns for developing speeches. These also apply to documents. Patterns include:
- Cause and effect
- Problem solving
- Pros and cons
- Need, followed by a plan to satisfy the need
- Mnemonic (acronym formed from the first letter of each part of a pattern)
In the following 1-hour video, Dawn Lukas expands on the prior video by providing more information on development patterns. To the prior list she adds:
- Stories (narration)
- Examples (exemplification)
- Process description and analysis
The internet hosts many videos on storytelling. Most focus on writing novels, short stories, movie scripts, radio programs, podcasts, or public speeches. While such advice is good, it can be hard to apply to business documents. In contrast, the following 3 videos show specific ways to incorporate stories into business documents.
First, Derek Halpern tells how to add short stories to business media.
You also might be interested in Halpern’s blog post on the same topic.
Next, in the following video, Paul Smith explains how to compose a story for business.
You can find Smith’s story structure template here. The template can help you compose a longer story. For more of his advice, check out Smith’s book Lead with a Story .
Finally, in the following video, Gabrielle Dolan describes 4 styles of storytelling:
Dolan recommends avoiding bragging, joking, and the reporting of sterile facts. She explains that if you want to be persuasive, tell inspiring stories linked to serious messages.
Take time to organize your material, before you start writing. Cluster your ideas. Use established development patterns. Prepare an outline—even a short one. Add stories.