Secrets To Eye-catching Writing
We are drowning in the written word. The downside of being able to find out just about anything on any topic on a given day is that we have to naturally tune out some of the information that comes at us or we’d never get anything else done. It’s important, then, as brands are increasingly becoming publishers, to make sure that your articles will make readers stop and consume your content (especially over your competition!).
The secret to why some articles grab an audience and others don’t boils down to what they offer the readers: either you’re offering incredibly useful information (hard to do reliably, because everyone has a different idea of utility), a unique story they’ve never heard of (equally difficult, as exclusives are scarce in today’s on-demand news cycle), something that educates them in a new way on a topic they know about (an easier way to draw in readers than the previous options), or something that serves a need they have on an emotional level (this is the easiest one to accomplish, as some stories simply resonate more universally on an emotional level).
The most important thing to remember when writing to draw in readers is to create an outline that will drive the narrative. This will help you from sidetracking or putting too many details into your articles, which could lose readers.
Be specific from the outset with your goals
What is the ultimate action you want your audience to take? Is it clicking through to shop on your web page? Is it simply sharing your article with friends? Is it filling out an opt-in form to subscribe to more updates from your company? Be clear about your goals and make sure that the contents of your article support those goals.
If something isn’t fitting into the outline, save it for a different article. Focus and control over your writing will set your articles apart from your competitors.
Outline your article – and make edits to your outline
Identify your topic and outline the most important things you want to write about on that topic. Limit these items to one point per 100-200 words, and don’t go over that number. You’ll only struggle when it comes to writing your first draft. Include any links or quotes in this outline that you want to highlight. Remove any points that don’t contribute to your goal or that aren’t obvious to an outsider why they are there. You can always revisit these topics in a different article.
Look for an emotional hook
What emotions do people associate with the topic you’re discussing? It might not seem on the surface like every topic can elicit emotions, but consider insurance: it’s a seemingly boring product, but it can help save families from disaster. Look for the emotional core and weave that into the theme of your story.
Try to find a unique way to approach your story that will intrigue or inspire
Upworthy has had great success with intriguing and provocative headlines. They accomplish this by attempting to confuse the reader with an assertion that goes contrary to “common sense” or an accepted bit of trivia. Think about this technique when you’re looking for an angle to your article: What is the traditional narrative of a story like the one you’ll be writing, and how can you flip that narrative on its head?
Alternatively, telling a story from an inspirational angle is also effective. If you’re going to discuss a new innovation, start from the point when it was conceived and move the narrative forward. Highlight the emotional journey of the participants to inspire your readers.
Punch up like the pros
In Hollywood, there are writers whose sole job is to come into the screenwriting process before shooting and “punch up” (make a script funnier). This method involves looking over the last draft of a script and adding in gags or setting up bits to pay off later. Look for places where you can add humour or emotion to your writing. Make this the focus of one pass through your draft.
Make them stop with a catchy headline
Don’t forget to work and re-work your headline until it’s just as intriguing as the contents of your story. Write options until you stop, and then run your favorite options past another person to help pick the best headline.
Writing that grabs readers isn’t a mystery if you know how to set yourself up for success. Having a bulletproof outline and working out the theme and narrative of your article ahead of time will ensure that you can spot dead ends and trouble zones in your idea before you ever write the first word.