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  • Writer's pictureVishma Mistry

The 5Ws and H of writing

So, you've sat down to write but don't know where to start. This is normal. As a writer, I often stare at the white page on the screen glaring back at me. However, over time, I have come up with a strategy to combat this and get the keys on the keyboard clicking away. What is this strategy you may ask? Well, it's nothing new. You may already be familiar with it from your days of sitting in English lessons. Still don't know what I'm talking about? Well, without further ado, let's reveal the 5 Ws of writing.

The 5 Ws in writing

If you're not already familiar with the 5Ws in writing, this is what they are:

  • Who: Who is it about? This can crossover with 'what' depending on what you're writing about. This is the core of your storytelling. The rest stem from here.

  • What: Whilst it can be a crossover of 'who,' this is where you slowly peel away the layers of your story and elaborate on what happened or what the purpose is.

  • Where: Tell the reader where your character/product/service is. Be as detailed as possible. If you're writing a blog or some website copy, it's wise to add backlinks to the location(s).

  • When: If in the past, draw from research. Use current experiences, knowledge, and information to speak about the present. If it's futuristic, use your imagination.

  • Why: Whilst an obvious one, the 'why' often gets forgotten. People often overlook and forget to ask why. Diving into this question will allow you to answer things that haven't been asked yet and may also reveal some benefits to you and your reader that neither of you were aware of.

Let's not forget the H...

That's right, there's one more. The H. The 6th element of the framework. Whilst it may get covered by the 'who' and 'what' it's one to consider in your writing. So, even though you've probably already guessed what it stands for, here it is anyway.

  • How: Answer how it happened or how does something work or someone work. How can I benefit from reading this article? There is plenty to consider. And while you may find that it is irrelevant to your topic, it's worth ticking off.

These form the basic framework for information gathering to get the full story. It's a common framework, used not only by writers and journalists but also during police investigations. I use this to help me develop the framework for SEO-website copy, blog articles, brochures, research articles, presentations, and social media. Trust me, it really helps!

So, next time you feel you don't know where to begin, refer back to this framework.

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