Why do you write?
For most people, the answer is ‘I want to share my writing with my readers.’
Some are here to spread their point of view. Other writers want to entertain you with their stories or poetry. Still, others are here to augment their income by earning a bit of money.
No matter what, your success depends on attracting and satisfying readers.
As an editor for Illumination and Illumination-Curated, I read a lot of writing. A lot of it is really good, but sometimes it could use a bit of help.
Sometimes the writing is great but I know the reader won’t engage because of the presentation. You need to Entice the Reader — engage their senses.
I’d love to help you succeed.
I like to go through a checklist that I call the Holy Trinity. (My apologies to Sister Mary-Anne from the catechism classes she taught.)
The Holy Trinity
- Title and Subtitle. Does your title tell the reader what your article is about? Does it tell how it will benefit them?
- Image. A compelling image, properly credited will often pull a reader in. They are enticed by the mood, the colors and the content of the image. Some writers won’t click into a story with a shocking image. Others are attracted by soothing colors.
- Formatting. This is one of the most important, most neglected parts of writing a compelling article. For more on formatting, read below.
Before you publish, take a moment and think of your reader.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a lot of patience to sort through a long article just to find the information I’m looking for.
That’s why I started creating short, concise articles that get to the point right away. I’ve put these tips together here.
Just The Facts Jack.
Here are examples of private note’s I’ve recently sent to writers:
Please add a subtitle. Right now, your display subtitle is the first 5 or 6 lines of your article, which doesn’t look very good. Once you’ve added a properly formatted subtitle, go into edit mode (click on the three dots), choose Change Display Title/Subtitle, and make any needed changes there.
Please work on formatting. Imagine that your reader is using their phone (most people do). They will be daunted by these large blocks of text. My rule of thumb is 4 or 5 lines maximum.
Format to break up your text. Sometimes you can feature a single sentence in between two blocks for emphasis. You could create subtitles for the main sections as well.
Give the reader a place to rest their eyes.
You could find a quote about your topic and include somewhere in the story using the double quote format tool to feature it. The advantage of quotes is they provide another perspective and they give the reader somewhere to rest their eyes.
A reader may engage with a video. If you are able to incorporate a link to a relevant You-Tube video it adds to your content. Be sure to include only short videos.
Overused or repeated words. One tip I use in my writing is to search for words that I overuse. Words such as ‘like’ and ‘that’. Use Ctrl F and search for THAT. Right away you see there are 19 uses of the word in your article. You may be able to slightly change sentences or use another word. That will improve your writing.
Direct vs Indirect. Your first sentence begins indirectly and could be stronger if you reword it to be more direct. Instead of: ‘In his memoir, the famous author Ryan Holiday shared…..’, TRY ‘Ryan Holiday, the famous xxx recently shared …….”
Be clear about your message. What are you trying to say? A story that rambles on and on with no clear idea is like being seated beside your Great Uncle at a family dinner. You know, the one that tells the same story you’ve heard a million times before. A clear and concise introduction helps draw the reader in, as well as a short take away for the reader at the end.
A good formula is: ‘Tell them what you are going to say in your introduction. Then say it. Then tell them what you just said.’
One last tip to entice your reader:
Add a kicker to give your article that extra kick.
If you are editing the article on Medium, put your cursor at the beginning of the main title, hit enter, and then move your cursor up into the space you’ve created. Type a topic, such as Writing, then highlight it and select the small T subtitle format. That’s a kicker. You can add a couple of words, with a divider between. We use | which is created using Alt 0124 on a PC. The Mac might have different keystrokes but the rest of the kicker setup should be the same.
For more helpful advice from a different perspective (because we all have different learning styles), check out this new article by Liam Ireland.
I write to inspire and make connections. If you’re interested, sign up here.