Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It's Not Just About the 5W/H

It's just not enough to start a complex document by asking the proverbial who, what, where, when, why, and how. If you're writing a hard-news article for the company newsletter or a root-cause analysis, then the 5W/H would be a terrific start. But more often than not, writers need to stress only the how, when, and where or omit the who, what, and why altogether for scientific, political, or legal reasons.

Asking questions is a big part of critical thinking and a necessary step of quality writing. In "The Art of Asking Questions," Ron Ashkenas, writing for the Harvard Business Review Blog Network, suggests three areas to ask questions for improved managerial effectiveness: about yourself, about your plans and project, and about your organization.

Asking these questions would help to develop rich, audience-focused content for their proposals, reports, analyses, white papers, and blogs. Planning messages is a key to efficient writing, so take the time to plan-by-asking and break through writer's block.