Create Vignettes to Write Articles Faster

Have you ever sat down to write an article … and suddenly ideas are spilling out of you?

You add, you edit, and then you go back and add some more.

Realizing you have too much copy and more than one big idea, you’re not sure how to proceed. Still not done, you edit some more.

Frustrated and tired, you think to yourself, "This isn’t worth it. When will I be done with this?"

This happens to me more often than I care to admit.

Fortunately, I’ve been using a new tool which is helping me create stronger, more focused articles while spending less time writing them. In fact, it has cut down my writing time by about 75 percent.

Writing Push-up #2: Create a Vignette

Songwriters use a simple method for planning out their songs. It saves them time, ensures they don’t leave out important elements, and keeps their pieces from becoming too long or unfocused.

It’s called the "vignette exercise." It’s basically a sexy name for outlining.

I recently adapted this exercise to write articles, and let me tell you, when I do it, it saves me hours of time.

Vignettes will help you organize your thoughts, plan your writing, and get your mind thinking about what to write. Plus, you’ll avoid frustration and extended editing sessions.

Here’s how you do it:

Step one: Define your topic

Start with a broad topic. For example, web writing.

Step two: Name the one big idea you intend to address

Web writing is pretty broad, so the big idea I’ll cover is “How to Write PPC Ads.”

Step three: Answer the five Ws (who, why, what, when, where) and how

This is where you’ll answer all the questions your reader might have. This helps you make sure you don’t miss any information they will want to know.

  • Who is this for? Web writers who want to know how to write a PPC ad that will get clicked.
  • Why is this important? Because they can secure ongoing work if successful, charge more per ad, and get referrals.
  • What is this? A simple step-by-step method for writing a PPC ad.
  • How?

    • Elements of a great ad
    • Keywords
    • Value proposition
    • Sell the click
    • Testing
    • Landing page
  • When? Use this formula when creating PPC ads or if you need to improve your process.

Step four: Write down the objections or questions your reader might have

Assume your reader knows very little about the subject.

  • Will this work with ads that send prospects to both sales pages and lead-generation pages?
  • What proof do you have that this formula works?
  • Why should I believe you?
  • Do you have samples I can see?

Step five: List the benefits

  • Increase your click-through rate.
  • Save time creating PPC ads.
  • Get results so your clients spend more money with you and give you referrals.

Step six: Summarize

What will your conclusion be? What do you want the reader to do?

  • Use the four-step PPC ad technique to improve your click-through rate. Then you can confidently add PPC ad creation to your list of services, get your clients coming back for more, and encourage referrals.

Step seven: Eliminate unnecessary items from your outline

Use this step to cut down on your editing and rewriting. Go back and look to see if all your points relate to the big idea stated in step two. Are there any bullets you can remove that would be better addressed in a separate article? Are there any points that are redundant? Strike a line through repetitive and off-topic bullets so you know not to include them when you begin writing.

In my outline above, “landing page” and “testing” should be scratched off because these could be articles on their own. They stray too far from the big idea.

Step eight: Give yourself space to think

After you complete your outline, put the project aside and let it percolate for anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours before you begin writing. You’ll find you have clearer vision and are better at sticking to your outline.

Your writing push-up for today is to spend 10 minutes or less outlining an article you’ll write. Or if you don’t plan to write an article, adjust the elements in the vignette to match the elements in the type of writing you most frequently do. Then, tell me about it by commenting below.

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Published: September 27, 2011

6 Responses to “Create Vignettes to Write Articles Faster”

  1. All the writers on International Living are fabulous. THere is one problem......I gave international Living my work email and your interesting articles definately distract me and move me away from work and into my dreams - real problem there...haa haa haa.

    I wrote a book and my editor is "assisting with it". Writing is beginning to be a passion, hence I am very interested in AWAI. Thank you for your tidbits of information to get better at this. Looking forward to going to Ecuador for seminar. Hopefully will meet some of the great writers there.
    Thank you - Linda

    Guest (Linda)

  2. Great outline, I mean vignette, Cindy! I believe I'll print this off and keep it handy. Thank you for more valuable advice!

    Kellie Craft

  3. I have been doing your "push-ups" and they have done wonders to speed up my writing.

    After reading this piece, I immediately put pen to paper and applied it on a project I was stuck in and voila! within 10 mins, I had a working document in hand.

    Thank you for the very handy advice!


  4. Your step 3 did not cover the WHERE...could you give an example of using the fifth W please?
    BTW Great article :)

    Guest (Rochan)

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