How to write a good article ?

How to write a good article ?  Something that people will read and share on social media ?  Something attractive and coherent ? Here are some pieces of advice you can follow…

People generally assume that it is very easy to write a good article when you are a seasoned journalist.  Nothing could be further from reality!

Writing a good article, even if you are not a rookie, is a very demanding task and a lot of work !

I gathered in this mindmap all the stages of the writing process.  As usual, you can download this mindmap about How to write a good article from my Biggerplate profile.

Some stages to follow if you want to write a publishable article
How to write a good article ?

1. Find a good topic

First of all, you have to find a very good topic!  Something unique that will enthrall your readers, something interesting which will give them a different point of view or the comment of a world renowned specialist.

2. Write for your readers, not for yourself

But, above all, don’t forget : you write for the reader, not for yourself.  The reader is your absolute measure, you should keep him or her in mind at every stage of the process.  That is why I enclosed the topic “your readers” inside a boundary : to remind you (and me) of the utmost importance of your readers.

3. Listen to your readers

How do you find a good topic for your readers?  Listen to them !  It’s never been so easy!  Nowadays, everybody speaks on the Internet, on blog comments, in social media…  Set up a monitoring system with an aggregator, like Feedly for instance.

4. Gather relevant information

This will help you gathering relevant information : funny stories, interesting points of view, unique witnesses of a great event.  Things that will give some flesh to your story.

5. Analyze your information

But gathering information is not enough : you have to analyze it.  What is really relevant here?  Are those data really accurate?  Is the information relayed by the witnesses considered credible at all?  Cross-check your information to see if there are no contradictions or inaccuracies…

6. Choose the right angle

Choose the right angle to tell your story : will you adopt the doer point of view?  Are you writing from the witness eyes?  Are you comparing this situation to a previous one and contrast the differences?  The angle is utterly important : it could be the only difference with one of your competitors’ article…

7. Structure your paper

Structure your paper : will it be a funnel-like text, starting from the most general information and going deep into the minutest details?  Or will it be a chronology, recalling a long series of facts ending up in a striking conclusion?  Or will it be an interview : a dialog between you and one or several people involved in the event?  The structure is also an important and difficult choice.  The way you present your story to your audience can emphasize some points but also hide or minimize other important data.

8. Write down your story!

Write !  It’s about time, isn’t it?  Yes, now you can sit down at your desk and start typing.  You are going to assemble bits and bolts and make a coherent, fascinating story.  Do it with style.  Respect your reader, so avoid useless repetition, clichés and jargon.  Your reader deserves the best of your production!

And, by the way, your reader is not your mom : so don’t expect praises and compliments if your text doesn’t match the industry standards…

9. Edit your paper

So after writing, don’t forget to edit your paper : it’s time to chase mispellings and clumsy wording, to trim lingo and difficult expressions.  Keep it simple and stylish!  If possible, get it edited by someone else.

10. Publish your story!

And finally : publish!  Choose the right canal to do so.  If you are a blogger, you have total freedom.  If you are a journalist, you’ll have few impact on the publishing process : the story, the angle, the structure, the publishing time… all of that will be imposed (or at least discussed) by your editor in chief…

But, anyway, when all this is done, you’ll have the pleasure to read your prose online or on paper and you’ll probably get some feedback from your favorite readers (including mamy, yes!).

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Wine mapping : taste your wine with a mindmap !

In one of his blog posts, a French winegrower Hervé Bizeul proposes a unique way to taste your favourite wine : Wine Mapping !

Lisez cet article en français !

A French winegrower Hervé Bizeul wrote on his blog Clos des Fées – which is also the name of his vineyard – proposing a new way to taste wine : Wine Mapping !  Instead of jotting down a linear appreciation of your wine, just draw a nice mindmap !

But Bizeul also stresses the point that most mind mapping software lacks the graphic capability to interpret such an endeavour.

So, I tried to capture the memories of one of my very old wine tasting experience into this iMindMap mindmap that you can also dowload for free on Biggerplate !

iMindMap mindmap about wine mapping
My first wine mapping experience

I tried to make the memories and impressions of Lalande de Pomerol 1982 that I drunk in the mid-1990s.

A non-linear description of tasting

I drew this mindmap without any notes, thanks to the olfactory memory, which is a prodigiously long memory. What awakens the memories in Marcel Proust is not the taste of the madeleine, but its flavours which are far more numerous and richer.

After all these years, the impressions of heat, intense nature, both wild and tender, and the aromas of pine barrens are still fresh in my mind and still trigger some daydream.

I also described the place – a Chinese restaurant – and the of wine beautifully matches the dishes mixed with spicy, sweet and sour tastes. The owner of this restaurant was voted as the best sommelier (wine steward) of Belgium.

Finally, I described the final stage without using any images, only adopting the length of a branch and using bold text option to indicate another long finish and the supremacy and influence of each word…

What about you? What do you think? Would you also try the “non-linear tasting”?

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XMind 2012 : with the revisions, you always know where you are !

XMind 2012 comes with interesting new features.  Revisions are one of them.

This brand new feature shows you every step of your mindmap drafting.

You always know where you are.  You can always go back.  And for collaborative work, it is important to trace back the changes made by members of your team…

In the previous article, I wrote about the brand new Gantt Diagram which turns XMind 2012 into a more business oriented software with great project management tools.

Today, I will emphasize another great feature of this new XMind version : the revisions.

A history of your mindmap drafting

Revisions show you the drafting of your mindmap step by step : like a photograph of each step of your mindmap.  It is a very interesting feature if several members of a team or of a class are working together on the same mindmap.  Each of them can see what the others have changed.

Here is the final mindmap of the Calix Project we have used in the previous article.  (Click on the picture to enlarge it).

Example of project management with the new XMind features
Project management with XMind

But what were the steps of this mindmap drafting ?  How did I get there ?  Wasn’t there a better version of my mindmap ?  Or was there a step I finally dropped, but I could use somewhere else, in another mindmap ?

Review every step of your mindmap !

The Revisions tool allows me to review each and every step of my mindmap.

For this Calix project – which was initially written in French – I added, at the fifth step – a topic “Objectifs”  (Goals) with a picture.  Finally, I decided to discard it to simplify my mindmap and to focus on my main topic : tasks management.  Here is this discarded step, visible again thanks to the revision feature. (Click on the picture to enlarge it).

How to review your previous work in Xmind ?  By using the Revision features !
Revisions in XMind 2012

This is a very interesting feature for team work but also for students who want to rebuild the reasoning from scratch, for instance.  I am pretty sure you will find new applications for this amazing tools !

Do you want to mindmap with XMind too ?  Then visit the download page and get it for free !

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