Fish Bite Sound Bites - Can You Reel Them In?
By Beau Smith
Can you write a headline? That's required these days, especially if you are article marketing. Repeatedly I find that the better headlines of my articles attract the most attention. Wouldn't you know it? As I look around at articles, I discover that I, too, look for interesting headlines. If you can grab me with a headline, I'm in. What happens next, though? That's equally as important. Well, maybe not equally, but close.
Does your content hold up? Do you have content? What's that, anyway? Content. You know, substance, the reason I read the article in the first place: to learn something I didn't know, or maybe to "get it, whatever "it" is, in a way I had not before. Do you give me that? Or are you just blabbing on?
Writers can blab on. I can blab on. What are editors for? To throttle us, I guess. I'm sure they want to sometimes. And sometimes they do, metaphorically. I worked at a local newspaper once upon a time. The Woodstock Times, of all newspapers. Produced in Saugerties, New York. The writers and editors had a joke about editors slaughtering this or that unfortunate article and wearing a bloody slaughterhouse apron or vest or whatever you call it slaughterers wear to protect themselves from all the blood they spill. Hack away...
The article doesn't need much for content. But it needs something. Definitely. Or you just start. Blabbing on. See what I mean? Who likes that? I don't. Maybe if you can make me laugh... Anytime someone can make me laugh. But you didn't come here for jokes and fluff. You don't want to read it. So when you write an article, don't write it - fluff and blab, I mean.
Sure, you can edit that stuff out. But wouldn't it be great if you didn't put it in in the first place? Heinlein thought so. He wrote with a directive of minimum attention from the editor. His advice, among other pieces of advice to writers, was to do the minimum of editing and only change what an editor demanded you change. In other words, don't revise the heck out of a piece of writing. Different writers have different opinions. I like Heinlein's. Though I must admit some of his novels do go on. And on. But I finish them. On occasion I've been tempted not to. But it's Heinlein we're talking here.
You get better and better and faster and faster. That's all there is to it. I can write an article, read it over once for a polish, and it's done. Now, this also depends on what you are writing. Although... Speed never hurts. In my opinion. (IMO)
I could become a professional note taker. Notes are faster.
Okay, maybe I just bamboozled you. But that's part of the content of the article. It works. Can you believe it?! The doggone thing works. Well, I may be exaggerating. But not much. The point is you have one point, maybe two. I would say no more than that. And you just write and try to be as charming as you possibly can. Without being smarmy.
I'm not going to let you finish this article without me giving you something more. I gave you a headline. Maybe I talked some trash. But it was interesting. I thought, anyway. You got a sense of me. You got to hear my writer's voice. That's not enough and I know it.
So, I give you a big finish, something you can sink your teeth into, what you've been waiting for! What is it? The big finish! And...um...what is the big finish to this article? The big finish is telling you to have a big finish. That's clever. Not.
Actually, it is clever. This is what you do, basically: You grab them with a headline. You've got to do that. Then you do what I called just a moment ago "talking trash." I'm not being cynical. I am being honest. The article has to have you in it, and you are not perfect and your article is not perfectly perfect. I don't want to read a perfect article.
But... I don't want to leave the article feeling you left something out, which you definitely will have done if you catch me with a catchy headline and then all you do is talk trash. I want more. I deserve more. Hey, come on. I'm the clickmeister over here. I would think you'd respect that.
So, here you go. Here's the big finish I've been promised. The wrap up. It's basically a summary. You catch them. You talk trash. And then you give them ONE thing. Really, the article can be about just one thing. A piece of information they didn't have before, or didn't get before in the same way you told it.
Did you realize you have to do that? Did I do that? I think I did. I gave you the progression. Not much more than a formula. But it works. And did you think of article writing quite that way before? Maybe you did, if you've been at this for awhile. But the newbies, I think they will appreciate what I said.
I appreciate what I said, and I'm not a newbie. So maybe the content I offer will also give the more experienced of you a satisfied feeling as well. I hope so.
Beau Smith is a professional multi-media artist who creates human-sized copper frogs. He also paints, writes, makes music, and designs for the web. His site is at http://www.beautifulfrog.com He also produces a podcast called The Science of Originality. The podcast is available through his website.