A “How-To” is a concise article written with the intention of offering information to new users about an activity. It is oftentimes presented under a context of expertise, and will start with more general information before narrowing down to the inner workings of the topic.
The first step in writing a “How-To” is to convince your audience that you actually do know what you are talking about. This establishment of credibility is key, for how else can you convince your readers to follow your directions. The easiest way to do this is by dropping “keywords” into your paragraphs. Professionals create sentences that flow around these “keywords”. Often times these sentences will become your “lead-in” sentence or your “conclusion” sentence, for any given paragraph.
The second step is to offer your reader “pre-advice.” This is a sub-category of good advice that revolves around what you should do before you start the given activity. Preparation is the key to success! Know what you are going to write about before you start writing. Then stretch your minds when you write, either literally or as a metaphor.
This third step demonstrates the body of a “How To” article. This is where you lay out the meat and spices for consumption. Don’t be afraid of using verbose words or complex metaphors to help create that special “Yowza!” Of course, shiny eloquence won’t get you very far if your knowledge of the topic is skeletal. To prove that you actually do know what you are talking about, use examples. Throw pertinent stories from your personal life into the text. If I were writing a How to Impress Women article, I would write something like this:
Due to the essential biological differences between the genders the bathroom is often a source of tension. I can personally say that the Women I know are always impressed by the lack of urine on their toilet seats.
Always follow through by reiterating that the example has a point. In my fictional “How-To,” I presented my information through demonstrative means. This “lead-by-example” method is an approachable way to present data to your reader. Reiteration then helps the reader to better understand the full scope of your given point.
Step four is to bring this follow-up advice into play. This is a critical step, as failure to correctly offer follow-up information on your topic will leave your reader hanging. Sometimes your follow through is an alternate example, such as:
When she’s talking, I actually listen.
Other times it will only be a single sentence that explains this step in the “How To” process. Be prepared to follow-up with your follow through, as this is known as a “conclusion.”
If you actually are an expert in your chosen “How-To” field then a strong finish will be as easy as a firewalker’s fire walk. You want to use positive visualization techniques at this point to let the reader know what they should expect. For example, my conclusion will reach you on the wings of angels and full of the hope of all the children in the whole wide world….
On the other hand, if you are writing a negative “How-To” like, How to Save a Limb in the Instance of a Venomous Snake Bite, then just focus on whatever pre-hospital medicine you may know and let the words take care of themselves. In these rare “How-To” instances, just try and limit the negativity of your reader’s situation.
Once you have established your credibility, written enough to let your reader feel fulfilled, and provided examples to reiterate your new techniques, then it is time to quickly end your article.
- Writer’s Digest – “Write a How-to Article in 6 Easy Steps“
- Jittery Monks – “How Many Words in 3 Pages? 5 Pages? Use This Trick to Estimate the Wordcount – Fast!“