Famed novelist Roald Dahl wrote several drafts of his work because he claimed that he could “never get anything right the first time.” Writing at writetodone.com, Henri Junttila’s article 7 Things You Have to Do to Write Unforgettable Articles starts off with the caveat that writers should be aware that there’s always room for improvement and goes on to list his primary traits that transform any piece of writing from the mundane to the extraordinary.
- Know your audience – It is effectively impossible to write for everyone, especially in the online age where specific interests have become nanofragmented. What will suit the audience of a particular segment will be wholly inappropriate for another, so the reader of a fashion blog will find very little of interest in an HVAC post. (By the way, I’d like to argue with Ms. Qudosi’s recent evaluation, as HVAC is a very exciting field… I wouldn’t want to be Ruud and cause Payne or Rheem the Goodman of the industry.)
- Address their needs – Everyone has some secret pain, and the trick is to identify a particular dire need and leverage it for the sake of your writing. Junttila states that he couldn’t really care to read an article on how to get healthy, but would rush to a piece about how certain foods could make him fat, lethargic or sick.
- Grab them with the headline – Junttila points to Cosmopolitan magazine as an example of great headline writing. Even though you might not be writing about The Best Ways To Get Him Interested In Bed, there are valuable lessons to be learned from the headline masters, whether they be at the supermarket checkout counter or on the more popular blog sites. He also points out that the best headlines are often endlessly recycled.
- Hook them with your opening – Referring to fiction novels as a model for seizing a reader’s attention at the very beginning, Junttila points out the books that leap directly into the meat of the plot rather than starting out at a glacial pace establishing the characters and the background. In your own blogging you might want to directly jump into the most driving aspect of the article rather than give a chronological overview of the events that led to the feature. Consider it starting your novel with the jetliner exploding against the mountainside rather than the passengers getting on board.
- Have a goal and direct your reader to it – He argues that each piece needs to have a goal, and that it is important to drive your reader towards that goal. Subtlety is as effective nowadays as a chocolate tea pot, so your reader must be taken by the hand and led towards the realization that you wish them to have. This policy runs counter to several centuries of the tradition of proper writing, which dictates that wholly indirect inference is a superior writing ploy than smacking your reader over the head with a “do this now” exhortation, but the online world is rewriting the rules for everything, including English literature.
- Write passionately – When you can write peans to the SPDT switch in the White Rodgers Hydronic HVAC control, you’ll be a man, my son. Ah, to caress the gentle, sensuous, sinuous curve in the sensing element, or to engage in omphaloskepsis to mediate upon the dichotomous illustration of the Taoist fundamental of existence incorporated into its two-wire zone valve… and thus achieve satori!
- K.I.S.S. – Okay, so this checklist element can be seen to contradict the previous one, but they are not necessarily exclusive. Condensed, tight, frill-free copy is always a positive aspect, whether you’re blogging about a refrigerant scandal that hit the executive board of The Air Conditioning Contractors Of America, or writing The Great American HVAC Novel.
Writing well is an ageless prospect and it is one that all writers whether online or offline should aspire towards. There are far too many bloggers and web content writers who treat language with a disdain approaching contempt and Junttila’s checklist can go a long way towards ameliorating the state of the online writing art.
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