“It was said of old Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, that she never puts dots over I’s to save ink. ~Horatio Walpole
What is Generous Writing?
Generous writing is my term for pieces that give more than just quick information or only the facts; it is the creative aspect of non-fiction. Writing today has to be more than simply a word count and quantity, it has to be the word and content quality as well. These articles include the story behind the words, and that takes time, energy, and effort on our part to create a meaningful, value added article.
Writing about Any Topic: Miserly or Generous?
Are you a miser like Scrooge in your writing? Most of us know the story by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. The main character, Scrooge, with his Bah – Humbug attitude embodies selfishness, indifference, and miserly behaviors. When you are writing, do you think the facts speak for themselves, and therefore you just meet a word count? These attitudes might be miserly.
Scrooge’s transformation in the story helps him become generous and giving, and he learns to have an emotional connectedness to people in his life. These attitudes embody a generous writer, also. For example, who is Horatio Walpole? Certainly his quote adds an element of truth via humor to this piece, so in the spirit of the article, I’ll give the readers further information from a generous perspective.
- Horatio Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford (24 September 1717 – 2 March 1797) was an English art historian, man of letters, antiquarian and Whig politician.
- He is now largely remembered for Strawberry Hill, the home he built in Twickenham, south-west London; reviving the Gothic style some decades before his Victorian successors and for his Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto
- Walpole’s numerous letters are similarly useful as a historical resource. In one, dating from 28 January 1754, he coined the word serendipity which he said was derived from a “silly fairy tale”.
- The oft-quoted epigram, “This world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel”, is from a letter of Walpole’s to Anne, Countess of Ossory, on 16 August 1776. The original, fuller version appeared in a letter to Sir Horace Mann on 31 December 1769: “I have often said, and oftener think, that this world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel – a solution of why Democritus laughed and Heraclitus wept.” By providing links, if readers want to learn more, it is convenient for them to get added value information, and further demonstrates your generosity. Generous writers link information. Yes, you are a writer, and you will have an opinion. However, a generous article will offer the reader other information. Adding extra information demonstrates your consideration to the reader. You will benefit from repeated views and attract followers if they know you add value through additional links, videos or quotes.
Connecting to More Readers
We create a connectedness to the reader when we write generously. Start out by thinking about the topic, subject or idea from a reader’s standpoint as one criterion for your writing. How can this information be useful, entertaining, or of assistance to others?
- What might be helpful about the topic, subject or idea?
- Are there multiple aspects to the topic?
- What perspective of the topic has universal appeal?
- Can you reflect on a particular aspect from your creative perspective?
- Why is this information important?
- What do you as the writer consider the most important aspect of the subject?
- Is this timely information?
- Are you writing a seasonal, redundant or evergreen article?
- Where is media to support or generously enhance this piece?
While you might be interested in the topic, learning how many others have written about your subject is critical. Therefore, determine:
- Who else is writing about this topic?
- Are there perspectives not written that appeal to you?
- What about this topic touches you enough to generously write about it?
Why Generous Writing Rewrites Them All
Many writers only view the poles of a subject – pro and con – positive and negative or right and wrong. Generously writing gives you room to explore the gray areas of the subject more completely and gives readers a sense of your professionalism and concern in your writing.
Journalism encourages writers to cover the five “W’s” and one “H” word to create written columns. These are the who, what, why, when, where, and how. Answering these questions within the context of your article is the easiest and most reliable way to give your readers abundant information.This same advice works for articles as well. Make sure you include:
Keep in mind that using these in a generous piece is not always obvious but informative.
A great comment and compliment that I get is, “I didn’t know that, what an interesting fact” because then I know that some of the information is new, and all of it is generous.
Readers Learn to Trust Your Writing
When readers know you’ll give them additional information in your posts, they’ll visit you to see what you have to say, link or quote that gives them more information in a single read. This kind of generosity narrows their searches, as well. Here’s a few questions to ask as your structuring your post.
- How do you include the additional information and still write it from your perspective?
- How can you include this other information without a copy paste of someone’s words?
- What did you as the writer learn from others about your chosen subject?
- How did this information influence your perspective and writing?
Then give readers links to other experts. Learning to link, creating an information exchange within your article satisfies this.
Not Your Average Google Search
Although I liked the quote, I knew nothing about the writer, Horace Walpole. I like accurate sources, and I like added information, so I use several searches for most of my information. I often find little known and interesting information on Google Scholar. The other nice thing about Scholar is creating alerts for topics that interest you.
Depending upon the approach and tone in your writing, using journals, scholarly insights, and obscure information may just make your articles more interesting and generous. Generous articles are also creative and allow us to use:
- Compelling Life Examples
When you approach any article from your unique life experience, perspective or knowledge, it makes the subject exceptional and distinctive. These life observations, remarks and interpretations of your subject can add value and are a generous inclusion in your article.
Was I Generous or Miserly?
With this article, I have to consider which perspective I have written from; was I generous or miserly?
I believe that this qualifies for generous, and unlike the miserly Duchess of Marlborough, I care not for how much ink I used to write this.
- Scrooge: Wikimedia Commons
- Strawberry Hill Library: Wikipedia
- Five W’s and One H: Marilyn Davis using SmartArt
- Writing with fountain pen and ink: pixabay.com