By Danny Rubin
The first thing you want to do? Start with a quick opening line so people pay attention.
Then, you can make the next paragraph a bit longer and fill it with details pertinent to your topic. It’s important to remember online readers increasingly have shorter and shorter attention spans. So even if you have a lot to say, keep these sections to two, three or four sentences, add a period and drop to the next line.
***Go look at this news article and recognize the length of every section. See what I mean?***
Great. You started a new paragraph so readers likely stay with you. They didn’t lose interest in a big, blocky chunk and wander to their “Fun Kitchen Ideas” Pinterest board. Oh, never forget: the little details matter most. I could have said people “wander” to another “website,” but “Fun Kitchen Ideas” Pinterest board is more memorable.
Sorry, the above section had become too long. And this line stands out better on its own.
Then Put a Sentence in Bold and Offer the Reader Another Reason to Keep Going
Perhaps one more line of detail and then a punchy, bulleted list:
Active voice must be written by you whenever possible. You must write in active voice whenever possible. It makes your work “feel” in control.
- Always remove “filler” words like “that,” “very,” and “in order.” Don’t need ‘em.
- Only include content essential for the reader. If it distracts from your main point(s), then you know where people go. Yep, good ol’ Pinterest.
Notice how quickly this moves?
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Leave the bulleted list and return to the paragraphs again. Keep in mind when you are writing, “ing” verbs slow down the pace. So as you write, drop “ing” altogether. You would be surprised how often “ing” is sneaking into your writing.
The goal is to write something people want to read because it flows quickly and doesn’t waste time (tip: blogging can hone your skills like nothing else). It can be a cover letter for a job you want or a lengthy email to co-workers about a client project. Who knows? People might even start enjoying — sorry, to enjoy — the way you write.
As we round the bend and head for home, you certainly don’t want to lose the reader now. Make one or two final points, or recap the ones you already made. Oh, and be sure to check your work for any errors, factual or grammatical.
Then it often helps to finish out with a single line for emphasis.
And, finally, one more for good measure.
How do you prefer to write? What works for you?
Featured photo: Carolyn Coles (Flickr)
February 25, 2014
You can do this. All of this.
March 4, 2014
A fantastic guest post by Zara Kessler of Bloomberg View. Betcha can't click every link inside.