Breadth or Depth? How Will I Frame This Post?

By: Marilyn L. Davis
“To grow in the craft is to increase the breadth of what I can do, but art is the depth, the passion, the desire, the courage to be myself and myself alone”.  Pat Schneider

 Deciding Breadth or Depth

Each writer must decide if they are going to write from the perspective of breadth or depth. The writer can choose to give an interesting, informative overview of the topic and write a good article, or focus on specific points of the general topic and give in-depth information and resources for the reader.

A simple way to separate the concepts of breadth from depth is to think of bullet points as breadth and writing a 1000-word article about only one of the points as depth.

Breadth of an article is writing about as many aspects of your topic as there are to cover.  For instance, if you are writing about landscaping, you could cover lawn maintenance, shrubs and plantings, flower beds and organic and inorganic fertilizers.  However, if you were writing from depth, you might only write about specific shrubs for a particular climate zone.

I often write about the craft and structure of writing. In an overview format, I might list the components of an article and a brief description or a few keywords about each of the components, highlighting each of the following:

  1. Title: Predicts Content, Keywords, Promise of InformationStimulates Reader Curiosity
  2. Introduction: Appealing statements to attract readers, relevant quotes, attention-grabbing, sets the tone
  3. Content: Paragraphs of information, educational How-to, Entertaining, Helpful
  4. Conclusion: Summarizes all information relating back to the title and key elements of the content

breadth of article

Breadth: Equal Coverage for All Elements

In an article with breadth, each component has equal value, and there would not be more emphasis placed on writing about one element over the other.

Writers would have broad-based knowledge about each of the components and elaborate equally about them.

Depth: Highlighting One Element

depth of article___

In an in-depth article, I might still list the basic elements; however, I would focus on one specific element, such as the content, and give readers more information, sources, or descriptors to enlighten them about that individual element.

Using this approach, there could then be a series on the four elements listed and create interest for returning readers.

Breadth or Depth? Both Begin with Craft

Both types of articles serve a purpose. From a writer’s standpoint though, looking at how saturated the market is with your topic might help you decide whether to write breadth or depth.

Regardless though, first comes the craft. Solid writing craft means the art is well written. Therefore, improving at the craft of writing might means reading about how to write better.

Each day, I try to learn a little more about the craft of writing. Some books and writers that have helped me are:

100 Ways to Improve Your Writing by Gary Provost 

Help! For Writers: 210 Solutions to the Problems Every Writer Faces by Roy Peter Clark

On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

Writing Alone and With Others by Pat Schneider

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

After reading, comes writing; defining your process, analyzing the results, trying something different, and finding your voice, tone and style for both the perspectives – breadth or depth.

Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing


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