Think about links

It’s easy to forget about links in your writing. Once you’ve overcome the first major hurdle and actually made a start, there is a tendency to assume that the rest will just flow.

Not necessarily. Good writers spend as much time thinking about how to keep people reading as they do about hooking them in the first place.

A good link takes the reader from one point to another without them realising what’s happening. It keeps them excited. Above all, it doesn’t give them time to decide to stop reading.

Take this example from an article called Field Marshall Monty that appeared in the FT Weekend Magazine.
“Amazing, amazing, amazing,” Montgomerie reflected the other day, on a visit to the Vivendi Cup just outside Paris. “They were huge rivals, ­because they were top of the tree, first and second in the world together. And I was watching this as a rookie, in the back of the team room, going, ‘Bloody hell. This was what this means to these guys.’ I was looking at the whole scene, picturing it, and wondering, ‘Wow, I want to be part of this for many years to come.’”

He has been. “Monty”, now 47, has measured out his life in Ryder Cups. This weekend he captains Europe as it tries to win back the trophy at Celtic Manor in Newport, Wales. It’s a job that otherwise barely exists in golf: the equivalent of a football manager. And it entails trying to bond together one of the very few sports teams that plays under the European Union’s blue and gold flag. You wouldn’t think that playing for “Europe” would get a sportsman’s juices flowing, and yet for this Scotsman raised in northern England, it does.

See how the writer uses just three words, “he has been”, to move the reader along?

It’s a good link. It’s contextual and it takes the reader into new territory.

What you won’t see in this article are any links that begin with “also” or “another”, links that I call mechanical links. They’re bolted on. They feel like they’re doing something but really, they’re revealing that the writer is working through their list of points. And showing the reader the seams is never a good thing.

So using a list is not a good idea: “First we find that…Second it is clear that….”

Any other mechanicals that drive you mad?

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