Have you ever stepped back to analyze why some articles or blog posts make you laugh, cry and take action and others just leave you feeling absolutely nothing?
Do you know how your content affects your readers? Does it move them? Connect with them? Does it take a firm grip; embed itself in their memory so they’re talking about your content with friends and associates?
To create this effect, consider tapping into three fiction-writing concepts:
• Show don’t tell
Why These Fiction Concepts Work for Your Non-Fiction Content
While I’ve been writing content and copy for a number of years, I have actually been a fiction writer all my life. I also review romance novels for a national magazine. When I quit my day job to become a web content writer, I quickly realized the overlay between these two formats.
Let’s take a look these fiction concepts individually and how you can apply them to your non-fiction content for maximum impact and connection.
Hook: In fiction writing, the hook is the thing that gets the reader to turn the page and continue reading. You’ll find the hook generally in the first sentence or two of the book and then often at the end of each chapter. Pick up a favorite book on your bookshelf and read the first couple of sentences and then read the last sentence of the chapter, you’ll see what I’m talking about. Typically, a hook will motivate you to ask a question and wonder what’s going to happen next – it has to be compelling.
The same holds true for your content. Your very first paragraph needs to hook your reader into wanting to read more. You can accomplish this by asking a question, making a promise, making a potentially controversial statement or sharing a story.
Pace: Pace can be defined as the speed a person reads your story. If the story is a tight action packed suspense then the pace is going to be quick. If it’s a long epic romance then the pace is going to be a bit slower. You create and control the pacing in your content by choosing your sentence structure. Shorter sentences create a fast-paced piece and longer sentences create a slower paced piece.
Typically, on the web and with informative content, you want your pace to be pretty fast, which means shorter sentences and short paragraphs. However, making every sentence short can make your content feel choppy. Thus, some variety in your sentence length will create a better flow. If you’re prone to long sentences, spend a few minutes to break them up, your content will read easier.
Show don’t tell: You may be familiar with this concept if you’ve ever taken any type of creative writing course. It essentially asks you as a writer to create a scene for your reader thus creating more impact and a stronger connection with your content. Show them what you’re talking about rather than telling them.
For example, if someone says “they sky is blue.” Your response is going to be “yes it is,” “duh,” or “so?”
However, if someone says, “The sky stretched overhead, a never-ending warm Caribbean ocean.” You form a very distinct image in your head. (Hopefully, your metaphor is a bit more original and interesting than mine!)
In addition to charts, graphs, and personal stories, showing is often done through figurative language like metaphors. The metaphors you choose in your content not only provide insight to you and your personality (an essential aspect of branding your business) they create a connection with your reader. That’s the beginning of influencing them, converting, and of course building a community of prospects.
As a reviewer, I enjoy reading books written by southern writers because they have some of the funniest and most descriptive euphemisms. It helps create a connection between the reader and the character. In your content, it’ll help create a connection between your reader and you.
Keep a swipe file of content you really connect with and enjoy. Study it to find the three elements mentioned. Look for the hook, investigate the pacing and how it reads, and take a look to find those showing moments. Once you understand the concepts, it’s easy to transfer them to your website content to create the impact you desire.