Be Bright, Be Brief, Be Gone.

Cherie Thompson © 2004

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 Our eloquent Editor suggested that “to get your feet wet” at CQMagOnline I should write an article giving tips on ~ how to write an article. The challenge was set. Beautiful work is submitted to the Editor but unfortunately sometimes the text that has to be re-written. Here are some tips that have helped me to write successfully.

Like the gorgeous CQ you contribute the accompanying text is all-important and can often let you down. “Be Bright, Be Brief, Be Gone” was a motto learnt years ago as a ‘Tupperware’ demonstrator. Arrive, set up, demonstrate, write the orders and leave the clients wanting more was the key to success. This quick quip has allowed me to write and speak in a concise, clear and uncluttered way keeping the reader or listener interested and entertained. Some of the following tips will help you to keep your valuable reader wanting to hear more from you!

One of the first tips is to remember that not everyone is the same. We don’t all read the same or interpret the same. The US measurements, except for silk ribbon, is yards and inches while the metric system is used for measuring in Australia. Why not try to use both in your instructions? Putting “metric conversion” into the Google search engine the following table appeared at

6 Inches equals 15.24 Centimeters
7 Inches equals 17.78 Centimeters
9 Inches equals 22.86 Centimeters
12 Inches equals 30.48 Centimeters
18 Inches equals 0.4572 Meters
1 Yards equals 0.9144 Meters
2 Yards equals 1.8288 Meters
Maybe this will help readers worldwide!

When writing or telling any story there must be a beginning, a middle and an end whether a short text of a few words or an epic like ‘War & Peace’ you must woo your reader. Bring them in, tantalize them, grab their interest.

The beginning or should lay out your topic. Suggestions could start with where the idea for your project began. How it began. Whet the readers appetite, from your first sentence you will entice the reader or lose them.

The middle is where you tell the guts of the story. This can be your “how to” section. How you selected your fabric, how you dyed, where you purchased, how you embellished plus include the intricate steps or shortcuts you found to master your glorious creation. The stitches you used. In the middle it is a good idea to use numbers or symbols to highlight your step-by-step process. Keep the reader enthralled.

The end is where you round off and finish your story. Add any extra helpful tips or shortcuts you discovered and most important of all end your story leaving the reader feeling confident and satisfied.

Keep in mind spelling. In Australia we spell colour, valour and honour all with the “u” and usually by the time these words get to the US they are minus the “u” ~ so be it! Use the spell checker and grammar checker on your computer. Ask a family member or friend to read your text, if you live alone email your text someone you know to proof read before submitting. Keep your Editor happy remember she loves CQ as much as you. Allow her time for her CQ projects, don’t snow her under with reading and correcting.

Stephen King in his “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” talks about having an Ideal Reader or IR. King’s IR is unknown. How lucky we are to write for CQMagOnline where we know our IR, whether a newbie or a veteran, is on the same wavelength. How lucky we are to be able to take short cuts in our writing with an IR who understands the topic. Ideally our IR should not be easily bored. Unfortunately our IR could easily be. By not paying close attention to detail or by rambling we could lose our IR with instructions that could make them bamboozled! Their patience could be thwarted and a project simple for the designer could be a disaster for the person trying to follow the steps. Remember your IR.

Bonsai are grown carefully and lovingly. They are shaped exactingly and aesthetically. They are pruned regularly and systematically.
     So it should be with writing.
Bonsai look and are delicate. But they are not frail. Yes, they require constant tending and shaping and pruning, but the results are hardy, non-living.
     So it is with writing.

William Brohaugh in his book “Write Tight” penned these lovely words that could also apply to CQ. Lovingly, carefully, exactingly, aesthetically, delicate but not frail, shaping, pruning, hardy, non-living ~ doesn’t this compare as much to CQ as bonsai and writing? Imagine the similarities. See how written instruction could let down a beautiful work of art.

“Trash the empty words that sap power from your text”. Very and its variations including, extremely, really, usually, basically actually, literally kind of, rather, pretty much, mainly mostly and as a rule are the dead wood, writes Brohaugh. Another tip he emphasizes is to avoid the first person. First person makes the story longer and introduces another “character” that the reader must keep track of.

When writing your “how to” text consider the “be bright, be brief, be gone” rule. There is no need to spell out everything. Leave out the “you should” or “remember” or “don’t forget to” without these your written instructions are concise. Read through similar CQ or craft magazines and books to see how other writers have put their text together.

Typing “writing for craft” into the Google search engine produced an interview with Kathleen Taylor who tells she “… had been doing craft work in my spare time for fun. I realized suddenly that people must write for craft magazines. I sent a how-to article off the next day and made my first sale. I didn't come up for air for 14 years, after I'd sold over 500 articles to 66 different magazines”.

Writing for could be the beginning of a writing career for you. Come on in, write it down. These tips might keep your head above water. Don’t just stand the on the edge twiddling your toes and wondering, jump into the deep end ~ we’ll save you if it gets too tough!

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