Short sayings, brief insights

We start hearing these little informational nuggets when we’re children. But many of them stay with us…and we occasionally quote them.

“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

“Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

“No man is an island.”

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

“Better late than never.”

What do these sayings have in common? They offer advice, or they point out a common human trait.

My personal favorite is “The early bird catches the worm.” But frankly, if I caught a worm, I wouldn’t know what to do with it.

The 5 W’s…and an H

One of the easiest ways to start writing is to ask yourself a question, and then answer it in following paragraphs.

And, one of the many ways reporters interview people is to start with a “who, what, when, where, why, or how” question.

For instance, if you want to write a report on Benjamin Franklin, your first sentence might be “What did Franklin do before he was a printer?” or “How did Franklin begin his career in Philadelphia?”

You’ll often see stories begin with a question sentence. Some of the most popular columns in magazines are question-answer features.

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Question-Answer features

These fillers have been around print products almost as long as publications have existed. Why?

Some experts speculate that it’s hard for a reader to see any group of words that ends in a question mark without looking at the next sentence. And as you know, advice columns have long been popular in newspapers and magazines.

Of course, you could write an advice feature, or a series of them. If you’re an interior decorator, many people may already be asking you for advice. So creating a regular column in your local media could be a great way to attract even more clients.

Or — for a stand-alone story — you might begin your feature with an intriguing headline. Example: “What is today’s most popular lamp style?”

Take a look at Rix’s new book: How to Sell Ideas With the Minute Message