Fantastic Format Part 2

Yesterday I told you how Professor Mike put me in my place.

I asked him to look at a draft of my dissertation, and his response, to use the words of rocker Nick Lowe, was “cruel to be kind.”

Even a research paper is a story, and a storyteller has a responsibility to their reader.

And these are the questions that Mike asked me that day, the questions that helped me understand my responsibility:

1.      Why are you writing this? (what is your goal, your mission?)

2.      So what? (why is this important?)

3.      Who cares? (to whom is this important?)

4.      What comes next? (what impact will your work have? What change will come from it?)

And now I ask this of all of my students. I call them my Fantastic Format questions.

This advice has evolved to become part of my own writing discipline, and in the message I send to all of my students, every class. The answers to these four questions can be explicit or they can be woven into the story, but the answers must be easily understood by any audience members.

What do you think?

What are your rules for writing?

See you tomorrow!