The art of writing part 2

  • July 2014
  • Posted By Practical Editing

Intent versus content

Intent: that which is intended; aim; purpose; design.

Content: substance; purport; information contained with the communication.

Why are they separately important and intrinsically connected?

Do you have to lead with your intent on every text project? Perhaps not, but I think it’s important to consider. Intent is like the mission statement of a company. It is the go to statement that covers the why of something you are doing. Without going into the how or even the “should we?”. Your intent helps ensure that your meaning is not lost in the text, but brings your audience to the understanding you want them to reach.

Without it, you could fill your pages with useful, factual, and relevant content, but without a purpose, these seemingly important notions could be just that: notions and nothing more.

Unlike your content, which can be concrete, and valid, and full of wonderful ideas and facts, intent is slippery.

This series of blog posts started with the idea that I could show you how I write with the hope that it might help you with your writing. As I thought more about it I decided that my intent is to show you that writing isn’t just about how you write, it is also about how you think about writing. The difference being that with the right intent, your words will begin to form a structure to your content that may not have been obvious from the outset.

So when you, the reader, write, intent can change the language you use, or the way you present your case and it may even change the way you think about your chosen topic. It will inform, direct, and set the tone for the text. Even if the intent is two words, “open doors”, it can set your words free and open your mind to sentences you didn’t think you could write.


The Art of writing 3 will explore the question that can plague a writer: How do I reach my audience?

Other blogs in the Series:

The art of writing part 1