Improve Your Writing: Ideas

Good writers often divide their work into six components, usually called traits, a concept developed by teachers at Education Northwest. When writing, editing, or revising a piece, we assess its ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions. This week, we will look at the idea trait and its importance to good writing.

The idea of a piece of writing is its main message or topic. The idea should be made clear to the reader at the outset, and it should be developed and supported throughout the work.

Introduce your readers to your idea in your title and first paragraph. Make it easy for your readers to know what to expect so they can follow your story, argument, or article. Readers should never have to go back to re-read in order to understand your message; anything that distracts readers from your idea makes it more difficult for them to appreciate and enjoy your writing.

After you have made your topic clear, you need to develop it through logical organization, a trait we will examine next week. For now, it is important to keep in mind that every paragraph should build on your message so that your purpose is clear.

Add interesting and relevant details to your topic in order to develop it clearly and effectively. Help your readers understand your message by including anecdotes, statistics, and descriptions that “show” what you mean. Bring your idea to life by sometimes adding unexpected details such as analogies or memorable vocabulary.

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