I remember clearly when I was in third grade I had to write a book on how to do something. This was my first foray into this subject area. What did I choice? Well I decided to write a book and title it -“How To Raid a Refrigerator at Midnight”. I am betting my parents were thrilled! Not that I had ever done this particular task, mind you. I just wrote a third grade book about it! It was a lot of fun and had great pictures, if I must say so myself.
So how does one write a how to article on a subject they have never actually done, or have limited experience with? Well I believe that writing is a learning experience. So this subject matter will be no different. It is just learning a subject matter and then writing about it. But it all takes certain steps to be able to accomplish.
Step one – Choice your subject matter. This one is rather easy. Interested in how to change a flat tire? How to fix a leaky faucet? Try to narrow down your subject as much as possible. Writing about changing a flat tire is much easier than how to do car maintenance in general.
Step two – Gather your information. This is the one that may take a bit of your time and a bit of digging on your part. Research is usually involved in most writing. And the old adage holds true here also, you are going to get back what you put into it. Now I am not saying spend three days doing research on how to change a flat tire, but make the time and effort you spend researching appropriate to your subject matter. Even if you are doing an article on a subject that you know about, don’t assume that you know everything. New information is always available. Also information will vary from one view point to another. Take a look at what is out there then you can sort through what you do and do not want to include in your how to article.
Step three – Decide on a logical sequence. After all you are writing a how to article. And while a logical sequence may seem quite up front to you, it may not seem so to another person. Break it down into small useful chunks of relative information, and put them in the most useful order. Why small? You don’t want to overwhelm your reader with large task, especially if it is a task that may be difficult and new to them. Smaller doable steps are much more desirable.
Step four – Start writing. Sound like a no brainer, well actually it isn’t. Make sure your directions are precise and well written. Always keep in mind that you are writing an article on how to do something. More than likely your reader is reading for information. They want to know how to do the task at hand. If we go back to the task of how to change a tire, or if you go on and on about the model of cars and such, you aren’t writing for your reader.
Step five – Reread. Once you have written your how to article read it again. Try reading it with your audience in mind. Do all your steps make sense? Does it explain how to do things that may need to be explained? Be sure to run a grammar and spell check at this point also. Don’t let this become a crutch though. You need to go back and read it after this, to make sure your article is still readable and still flows smoothly.
Step six – Edit if need be. When you reread your article you may see things that you need to tweak. Maybe there is something you left out or have thought to add. You may see a clearer way to explain something. This is your chance. Though keep in mind after every change go back to step five again.
How to articles are fun to write and are fun to read, in my opinion anyways. Look at how well the “Dummy Guides” do. There seems to be one for every subject imaginable. People are always looking for ways to do things, or ways to do them better. Enjoy learning new task and sharing them with your reader!