Writing is writing, right?
Nope. If you’re a writer, you know that what type of writing you’re doing matters. And it’s not just AP versus Chicago; it’s structure and style and voice.
Here at Craft Your Content, we’re all about finding ways to help your true voice shine through as you create great content. It’s a cardinal rule of ours: instead of the “right way to do things,” there’s the right way to do things for each of our clients.
Language should be flexible. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some basic tenets of writing to follow. We can create better content by following a few rules from the academic world.
He holds him with his glittering eye—
The Wedding-Guest stood still,
And listens like a three years’ child:
The Mariner hath his will.
— from ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,’ Samuel Taylor Coleridge
In the age of information, how do we choose to communicate?
The answer is… in the same way as we have done for thousands of years.
Humans tell each other stories.
If you live in the midst of Western civilization, some English or History teacher probably told you that the ideas of Ancient Greece form the roots of our modern society. Everything from our structures of government to our philosophy, architecture, science, and arts resonate with Greek thought and ideals. And, if you’ve seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you “know” for a “fact” that any word—any word—can be traced back to Greece.
Would you also believe, then, that the Ancient Greeks knew a thing or two about content creation before we did? We’re talking them having thousands of years of experience over us—so much for content creation being a “new way” of doing things.
The Greeks had different purposes than we do now, though. They weren’t focused on selling a product or service to an audience. Rather, they were in the market of ideas, of sharing them, of persuading others to share them, and having them spread.
They built whole professions on this concept. Orators, or speech-makers, would stand in front of a crowded amphitheater, using their words, voice, body language, professional backgrounds, and logic to get their audience on board with their ideas. Famous rhetoricians throughout history have followed in these Greek orators’ footsteps: W.E.B. Du Bois, Susan B. Anthony, and Martin Luther King, Jr., to name a few. (I had to give you some good examples; no doubt the word “rhetoric” makes you think of corrupt politicians, and that’s enough to ruin anyone’s day.)
So who was the self-proclaimed father of rhetoric in Ancient Greece? My man, Aristotle.
But content creators aren’t rhetoricians or speech-makers, so how can Aristotle’s rhetorical technique help them connect to their audiences? How can you be as effective as Reverend King? Isn’t that a bit of a stretch?
Recent analysis of content readability has shown that most readers like bite-sized bits of information. This means headings, sub-headings, short paragraphs, and quick sentences are always a win.
If you’ve ever worked with Craft Your Content’s editorial team, you know that we spend a lot of time breaking your writing up into smaller parts.
In the busy, digital information age, this makes even more sense. Think of a commuter reading off an iPhone as she moves around the city.
Because she’s reading in short intervals from a device in a busy environment, she must be able to easily recall where she is in the article or post whenever she’s distracted. Headings, short words, sentences, and paragraphs will help her remember where she left off.
Less complex things are easier to remember.