Seduce me. Sincerely, your reader.
The sheer number of voices in our digital climate makes luring readers to your content difficult! Keeping them hooked is an art. We tend to leave poetry to Poe and prose to Shakespeare.
However, there is no monopoly on words. Let’s discover how to write a good blog post.
Use your voice
Many believe that there are infinitely many ways to write. They’re wrong. There’s only one way: your way.
You shouldn’t feel like you’re hitting a wall while trying to express yourself. Words are windows into the author, reflections of the self that shouldn’t be fought against. Let your words flow freely. Write in a way that feels natural, waiting until you’ve finished to read over and edit.
By writing freely, your readers find more space to crowd in. Everything should feel familiar, both to you and to them. People wish to speak to people. A conversational tone does what a forced professional tone can’t, it invites your audience into your home rather than leaving them at the door.
Consider what feelings you might arouse in the minds of the audience. What does your voice sound like to them? Would they feel comfortable entering into your home? Don’t use words that would cause your friends to laugh at you had you said them aloud. In fact, say everything out loud. Anything that doesn’t flow should be revised or removed.
Write with style
There’s no shortage of places online where you can find writing strategies. They teach you how to write great headlines, ask questions, keep it simple, use metaphors – the list goes on.
These techniques are helpful, but they don’t infuse your words with power. They may teach you the rules of grammar, but you won’t learn the essence of style.
But Zach, you say, what do you mean by style?
Simply put, style is the ability to make the thousands of words we have at our disposal to create extraordinary stories. It is intangible, but oh so clear when you see it. Enough with the theory, let’s see it in practice.
Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.
What makes this string of words better than the following:
I frankly don’t give a damn, my dear.
What makes this:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…
better than this:
Those times were the best and those were the worst…
The syntax is slightly altered. That’s it. Yet one is far superior than the other. The poetic words of Mitchell’s and Dickens’ sing to us. They are alive.
Aldous Huxley shows us how even the simplest of sentences can create a powerful image:
But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.
Huxley writes in a way that is both familiar and emotional. He refrains from exaggeration, relating to what you and I may have felt at some point. That’s where everything leads to. That’s your goal. Draw out the already present thoughts of the reader and reinforce them. Relate to them. Then, offer them something new and unique using your voice alone. It’s likely that what you’re saying isn’t revolutionary, which requires you to explain it in a revolutionary way.
Being authentic with your style – showing readers who you are – will make your content more enjoyable and increase the probability that readers come back for more.
Captivate with action
In concentrating on word usage and the structure of sentences, average content may become exceptional. To achieve this, there are a few things you can do.
1. Speak, Show, and Shout.
The neural bridge between the written word and the auditory sense is undeniable. You need to take advantage of this by using active language (rather than passive) to engage your reader. Substitute boring, passive verbs for those that inspire imagery and motion. Use unconventional english while remaining friends with grammar, surprising the reader but not rebelling entirely.
2. Let it flow
There’s nothing quite like the soothing rhythm and continuous flow of a good poem. Content must be the same. By repeating your content out loud, or even better, having a colleague read it to you, you’ll be able to see where you’ve screwed up. Removing all stoppages in the flow will allow the reader to continue uninterrupted, making it less likely that they give up on you.
3. Tell a story
Bare-bone, empty facts bore us to death. Uninterpreted statistics drive us into thegrave. They are necessary, of course, but so are good stories. Interspersing exposition with pseudo-fiction (personal stories, relatable metaphors and similes, colloquialism, and other literary or not-so-literary devices) raises your content to another level.
4. Be original
Think of new ways to portray old ideas. While most subjects have been considered in depth, this doesn’t mean that you cannot create new, original interpretations of the subject. By pushing a concept through the filter of your personality and style, it becomes entirely new.
Eventually, it will become your second nature, effortlessly blending with your style. In the meantime, exercising these strategies and any others you find will assist in your journey towards the mastery of content.