In college, I was a volunteer teacher in my church. On one Sunday, our congregation had a training meeting for all teachers. The Sunday-school president, who led the training, said that our teaching had three goals. By the end of each lesson, we wanted people to
know something about the topic,
feel something about the topic, and
do something about the topic.
I've realized that this is also a perfect description of the goals of writing--whether it's religious or not.
For example, say you're writing an article comparing the candidates in an upcoming election. Even if your article is supposed to be as neutral as possible, your goals might look like this:
Readers will know who the candidates are and what their positions are on specific issues.
Readers will feel well informed and empowered to make a good decision among the candidates.
Readers will do something about what they've learned by considering their options carefully and voting for the candidate they feel is best on Election Day.
If you're writing an adventure novel, your goals might look like this:
Readers will know who the characters are, what they're trying to do, and what the stakes are.
Readers will feel invested in the story and curious about the fates of the characters.
Readers will do something about their investment and curiosity by continuing to read and buying the book (if they haven't already done so).
If you're writing copy for an email ad, your goals might look like this:
Readers will know what the product is and what it does.
Readers will feel that this product will make their lives better.
Readers will do something about what they've learned by buying the product.
Now, some of you might be saying, "Wait, wait. If I'm writing pure nonfiction--not opinion pieces, ads, or stuff like that--why do I care about what readers feel? The truth is the truth, regardless of how people feel about it."
This is a good point. "Facts are stubborn things," as American Founding Father John Adams said. However, much to the dismay of Mr. Spock, humans aren't entirely logical creatures. I'd guess that at least 50 percent of our behavior, if not more, is motivated by feelings. And readers have a lot of demands on their time and energy. Unless they feel something about an issue, a story, or whatever--and feel it sufficiently strongly--they're not likely to take the action you want.
Need some help figuring out your goals for your current project? That's what I'm here for. Click here to book a call so you and I can get you some clarity.
(Thanks to Isaac Smith for sharing their work on Unsplash.)