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Dont Make This Huge Writing Mistake!

You can create a great headline, a dynamic first sentence, and a brilliant lead paragraph. But if you can't hold readers during those middle paragraphs, they'll never see your conclusion.

What can you do? Here are seven ways to anchor that wayward reader from your first paragraph to your last:

1. QUESTION ? Ask a question in the last sentence of the opening paragraph. Example: "What did the three little pigs learn when they went out on their own?"

2. ANOTHER QUESTION ? If you don't ask a question as the last sentence of your opening paragraph, try asking it in the first sentence of a few middle paragraphs. Example: "What did Pig # 1 discover?"

3. BACKGROUND ? Bring the reader up-to-date on a problem. Example: "As you might remember from the original fable, the three pigs wandered off in different directions, each with completely different plans."

4. PROMISE ? Offer a few specifics in a paragraph, and offer to reveal more details later. Example: "The three pigs each built separate houses, which we'll discuss in detail later."

5. CLARIFY ? Show the reader that you're about to explain some previously unrevealed data. Example: "If Pig # 1 had built a stronger house, would he be out of danger?"

6. REMIND ? Reinforce points made in earlier paragraphs. Example: "Remember that each pig needed to find a house quickly."

7. LIST ? Make a list of items previously discussed. Example: "Yes, the pigs left their original dwelling for three reasons: (a) Etc., etc."

8. INVOLVE THE READER ? Ask the reader what he or she would do in similar circumstances. Example: "What would you do if your house fell down, and a wolf began to chase you?"

Bottom line: A transitional paragraph is like a combination road map and compass. It should keep the reader headed in the right direction and simultaneously point toward a goal.

Rix Quinn covers all sorts of writing techniques in his book "Words That Stick: A Guide to Short Writing with Big Impact." It's available in your local bookstore, or

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