Saturday, June 1, 2013

2013 WRITE: Bloggers: Your opening paragraph catches your readers. Or not. Checklist

BLOGGERS: Your opening paragraph 
catches your readers. Or not. Checklist
What do you want in your first paragraph?  Here is a checklist.
  • It is about the interests of your target reader.
  • It is not a cliche'.
  • It suggests what your current article will do for the reader.
  • It follows the idea suggested by the title.
Now look at the opening in this article.  Not exactly a paragraph.  A list--because lists are easier than paragraphs for reading on a monitor screen.  Apply the checklist to the opening of this article (the part above the jump break):
  • The title started with the target audience, bloggers.
  • The title mentioned something important to bloggers, catching readers.
  • The title suggested what this article will do for the reader, offer a checklist.
  • The opening lines expand on what the title offers.
  • The opening lines provide the promised checklist..
Here is another way I could have opened this article: 
Yesterday I was reading through about a dozen blogs and I was noticing what caused me to stop reading after the first paragraph.  One of the first things that turned me off was a cliche, like "We are pleased to announce..."  or "Come join us in..."   Then I realized that what was bothering me was that I did not know whether the article was of interest to me or not.  This kind of opening did not give me a reason to keep on reading.  So I did not keep on reading.  I made this checklist instead.  
Compare this paragraph with the actual opening.  Does the red highlighting help to make the point?  
Next time you are writing the opening paragraph of an article, you may want to remember the checklist.  Or at least the first item.

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