Blog Writing: Give Readers a Real Story

Chewing on a pen top or clicking over to Facebook … what’s your favorite way to procrastinate when you’ve got writer’s block? If you want your reader to curl up and enjoy your blog like a good book, but the start is what’s stumping you, fear not! You just need a little history lesson. Think back to your 7th grade composition class. Remember the formula? Introduction-Body-Conclusion. There’s a formula because it works. Spell out what you’re talking about, then explain it, then wrap it up. Sounds so simple, but here’s how to add a little elegance. Getting past the Headline

If you want your readers to make it past the title, give them an interesting opener. Make it too dry and you’ve lost them already. Make it too flowery and they’ll bail because they can’t find the meaning. It’s a delicate balance but I always go back to my days in news where the best stories always reeled you in with an interesting, personal start.

For a great illustration of how to start a story, I look to The New York Times. Take this opening line from a story on immigration:

“Buses have been arriving in Phoenix filled to capacity with women and children from Central America, raising concerns that American policies toward migrants are too lenient.”

The writer started with buses packed with women and children, not some dry statement on immigration. The words paint a picture and entice you to read on.

Why do I care?

To get anyone to keep reading, think about the benefit. Are you giving them information they need? I heard a storytelling expert once describe it as scattering gold coins through the story and letting your reader follow. Don’t give them the whole pile of gold at once. Keep them moving through the story with well-placed reader pay-offs.

Keep it Concise

You’re not competing with “War and Peace”. Don’t struggle to make your blog long because your reader may see 10 paragraphs and bail. Think a 5-minute read. Think 300 words. I think I’ve just run over my word limit, so I’ll save the rest for another blog.