We’ve spoken to a lot of architects and other creatives who struggle with describing their projects. Our advice is always the same: don’t worry about being a great writer, just talk about your project and the ideas around it in simple terms.
But that first sentence can be daunting. That’s where the 5 Ws come in. The cornerstones of any story are Who, What, When, Where and Why. If you can nail these in your first sentence, you’ll have almost everything a journalist needs to know to get a picture of your project.
Who What When Where Why
Believe it or not, you can cram all these things into just one sentence. Let’s look at this sentence:
This four-bedroom home in Fitzroy, Melbourne, completed in January 2016 is designed to give its owners – a young family of four – three key things: room for them to grow, a better connection to their local community, and more space for their prize-winning chickens.
In just 34 words you’ve covered 5 of the most important things editors are looking for:
Who: “a family of four (and their chickens)”
What: “four-bedroom home”
When: “January 2016”
Where: “Fitzroy, Melbourne”
Why: “room for them to grow, a connection to their local community, and more space for their prize-winning chickens”
Now, why not try this with your own projects?
Write down the 5 Ws, and provide an answer to each. Then arrange them into a sentence. Re-ordering them usually has little impact on the meaning. Before you know it you’ll have your first sentence (or two, don’t be afraid of full stops).
Telling the story of the rest of your project will generally stem from there – we’ll be giving you some more tips on your next 300 words in a future post.
The 5 Ws provide editors/writers with a whole heap of information which, for you, might seem trivial, but actually helps to set the scene for more detailed analysis of your project and give them an idea of whether it’s going to fit with their publication.
If you’re having trouble crafting that first sentence, send us your 5 Ws over here and we’ll shoot back our suggestions. Hey, free writing advice, who could argue with that?