Whether you’re a professional blogger, copywriter or ghostwriter, you’re getting paid to compose well-written articles and books that garner likes, shares and ultimately, sales. If you’re an entrepreneur with an important message to share or an individual writing an autobiography, then you want to ensure that your readers enjoy and benefit from your message and story.
So how can you create a stand-out piece of work that’s not dry, boring or confusing? Follow these seven techniques:
#1 Create a catchy title
Your title may accurately describe your content, but if it doesn’t pique the reader’s interest, then it will go unread.
For example, a basic title for this article could have been “How to Write Well.” It’s accurate, but not very specific and definitely not catchy. Hence, I went with “7 Ways to Write Compelling Content” because it immediately conveys that there are specific solutions for an identified challenge that many writers face.
Regardless of whether you’re writing a book, article or blog, try to create catchy titles and subheads.
#2 Set the scene
You’ve probably heard the old axiom, “Show, don’t tell.” It’s true. If you want to engage your readers, then you need to set the scene. Even if your topic is as mundane as “The Ten Best Shade Trees for Southern Climes,” you can – and should – incorporate visuals.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to share a personal example or paint a scene for the reader in the introduction. Thus, rather than simply saying, “In this article, I’m going to list the ten best trees. Here they are…,” you could say: “Imagine retiring to the perfect house in your favorite southern state. You know that it’s a warmer climate than what you’re accustomed to, but you’re completely caught off guard when you receive the first electric bill. As you consider immediate solutions such as tinting your windows and installing window blinds, also consider long-term options such as shade coverage. Not only will trees benefit you and your electric bill, but they will also benefit the environment. Here are the ten best trees…”
It’s important that your story doesn’t sound contrived, though. Make sure that it directly relates to the purpose of your story.
#3 Use description
Don’t be afraid to use adjectives and adverbs; make it interesting for the reader! For example, consider the sentence, “He pitched the ball and I struck out.” It’s complete and accurate, but it’s rather flat.
Spruce it up a bit by saying something like this: “In one fluid motion, he launched the ball from the pitcher’s mound. As the ball hurtled through the air toward me, I prayed that my bat would connect with it and send it skyrocketing beyond the outfield. I swung hard, but only sliced air. ‘Strike three!’ bellowed the umpire behind me.”
Notice the difference? The latter allows readers to experience the event as if they are with you as it unfolds.
#4 Add dialogue
This won’t be applicable to every nonfiction work, but it can be incorporated into many books, particularly autobiography. Bringing others into the story adds depth, enables readers to see different points of view, and allows readers to form their own conclusions.
In addition, it’s a welcome visual break in the text. After reading pages upon pages of block text, it’s often a relief to have a few brief sentences of dialogue interspersed between those paragraphs.
#5 Include positives and negatives
Whether you’re writing about trees or people, provide perspective by mentioning a few pros and cons of your subject matter. Rather than hurting your main argument, you will strengthen it.
If you’re a journalist, covering all of the angles shows that you’re not biased. If you’re writing an autobiography, it shows that you’re realistic. And if you’re writing a how-to or list article, it shows that you have your readers’ best interests at heart by allowing them to make an informed decision.
#6 Write in your own voice
While it’s important to remain professional and provide accurate information, your work doesn’t have to be stuffy. In fact, the trend today is to be yourself; incorporate some of your mannerisms and common phrases into your work.
This is especially true for those who are writing an autobiography. To help determine if you’re on the right track (see? I used one of my common phrases right there!), ask a close friend or relative to review a portion of your work. Does it sound like you? Do you really speak like that or act like that? If not, go back to the drawing board and rewrite until it accurately represents you
#7 Don’t overuse the word “I”
This is a common problem for beginning writers. Not only is it somewhat annoying, but it also shows a misplaced focus. Yes, you’re the author of the article or book and yes, it’s your perspective that you’re sharing. However, you shouldn’t be writing for yourself; instead, you should be writing for your readers.
Removing extraneous pronouns is sometimes as simple as removing a few words. For example, “I learned that there are five new tax laws” could be reduced to simply “There are five new tax laws.”
At other times, however, it takes a little more ingenuity.Consider this: “I went to the park last night and I walked the trail. Then I went to the concession stand where I bought an ice cream cone. I had a great day.”
Let’s see how it can be improved: “I splurged and bought an ice cream cone after walking the trail at the park last night. It was the perfect ending to a great day.” That’s much better; five “I’s” were condensed to only one.
Don’t be afraid to rearrange your sentences and play with word choice.
There you have it: 7 Ways to Write Compelling Content.
Begin to incorporate these into your writing and soon they will become habits that will make your work stand out.
Share your thoughts in the comments section!
What’s one takeaway that you plan to implement?