So, you’re cooking up a swank little article for Wikipedia. Or, you’re compelled beyond measure to post your latest insights with respect to the squid and peanut butter sandwich (a delicacy among some gastronomes). Likelier still, you’re creating a search marketing article to pump up the PageRank for your website and make search engines like Google and Yahoo! call you Daddy. Whatever you’re doing, if you’re going to write 500 words, write 500 words worth reading. Badly written, Web 2.0 self-absorbed brain babble isn’t helping anyone. Take a few extra minutes, write something coherent-the Universe will thank you.
Here are two steps toward writing articles that are better, clearer and more engaging.
1. Your article’s lynchpin is its lede (lead).
Lede or lead, take your pick. (Many writers use lede to disambiguate it from lead-as in “Stop drinking lead paint” or “She can lead her horse to a bucket of lead paint but she can’t make him drink.”) Your lede is your opening line. Without a strong one your article is dead and buried before it ever had a chance to draw breath.
The article’s lede should function as a literary squirt in the eyeballs. “Now just a minute,” we should say upon reading the lede, “this is making me hungry for more.” Your lede should not only demand our attention, it should crackle with the allure of delights yet to come.
This is a bad lede: “The suggestion, by persons in some places, that the sum total of the enrichment experience potential of going online to check out the Internet in this day and age is in fact in steep decline on account of the plethora of badly written articles, is worth noting.”
This would be a slight improvement: Bad writing is killing the Net.
2. Good transitions make your article sing.
Your lede is off the hook, and the subsequent two or three sentences lend it charm and gravitas. You’re thinking you’re home free. Time to put up your feet and wait for the money, accolades and aggressive advances from attractive members of whichever gender or genders your prefer. Not so fast there, cow person. Your article can’t dance without a couple of shapely transitions.
For example: Let’s say in your lede you write, “Filet mignon beats the hell out of tripe.” We like bovine products, so we say, “Aha, tell us more.” You write that tripe is cow stomach and rather chewy, while filet is cow tenderloin and, if cooked properly, melts like butter in your mouth. You go on to say that scientific studies show that there is significantly more protein in filet than in tripe. Now what? It’s time to take your article’s argument to the next level-but don’t go too far afield.
But, if for the opening of paragraph 2 you wrote the following: “I miss my cousin Darla who looks like a supermodel except for the fact that she only has three teeth,” that’s a poor transition, because what does Cousin Darla have to do with the importance of strong article ledes?
Whereas: “These days, tripe eating is relatively rare among Americans, however a small segment of the population regards it as a delicacy” is better because we stay on task even while imparting new and more in-depth information.
Consistently applying these 2 keys will markedly improve the quality of your articles.
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