You’ve just finished typing the last sentence of your article. You close your laptop and take a break. You feel excited that, at least, your first project of the day is in the books. You brew a cup of coffee and take your dog for a walk.
A few hours later, you get back to your piece. A couple of your sentences sound dull. Heck, the whole piece sucks. But, before you close your laptop again and ditch your article, do you think you are a horrible writer? Of course, you are not.
So how can you add a sparkle to your dull sentences? How can you hook your readers and glue them to your article?
To be honest, there is no silver bullet to that. And while you could go back and rewrite your piece, there are also some easy things you can do to spice up your writing from the first moment you put your fingers to the keyboard. From this article, I’ll share with you some of the tips that you can implement to make your writing sound brilliant.
Let’s check them out, shall we?
An opening sentence is often disregarded. But if you ask me, your opening sentence is as important as your headline.
The purpose of your opening sentence is to grab your readers’ attention and take them to the next sentence. This is where you create a rapport with your readers. If you can’t hook them right here, you’ve lost them forever.
The question is, how do you hook your reader from your first sentence?
Begin by launching with a dash of emotion. Using emotion will help you connect with your audience. Show them that you know what they are facing, and you do care.
A good example:
“Sending cold emails and receiving no response can be frustrating.”
Instead of making a flat statement, you can cause the reader to feel something. In this sentence, you can feel the frustration of sending a couple of emails, waiting for days, and still, all you get in your inbox is crickets.
Have you ever read an article and felt like the author was talking directly to you? That’s the effect of writing to one person.
You see, when you write for everyone, you start to worry about what everyone will say. You may try to argue both sides or get trapped writing about topics you don’t care about. In the end, your writing will lack cohesion, and you probably won’t like any of your ideas.
Writing for everyone is like trying to make everyone like you. The fact is, you can’t do either. Everyone isn’t your audience, so don’t write like you expect everyone to read your piece.
Writing for one person helps create a bond with your reader. You will be churning out content that is filtered by your opinions. It shows how confident you are about your writing, and confidence pulls people in by showing you are someone with authority on the subject and you are trustworthy.
As a result, focus on writing for just one person. Visualize that person as a friend who has come over to you for advice. Tell them what you know, not what you have heard from others.
Here’s an example of a too-broad statement:
“Most people have a problem growing their business brand on social media.”
Instead, narrow the audience addressed in the sentence to the individual reader:
“Do you strive to grow your business brand on social media?”
This way, your sentence will sound less robotic and have a burst of life in it. What’s more interesting is that you will be welcoming your reader to engage with your article.
Sensory words are phrases or words that evoke feelings in a reader. Simply put, your readers can vividly picture your story as if they were there.
I know what you might be thinking—sensory words can’t resonate well with business writing. But they can work with business writing if used wisely. Sensory words have their magic. They help add a sparkle to your lifeless article and give your audience a chance to live in your story. They spice up your work and add a personal touch to your writing.
Take a look at this sentence.
“Are you struggling to convert your readers into email subscribers?” While technically correct, this sentence doesn’t have much life to it.
Now check this sentence.
“Are you struggling to convert ice-cold readers into raving email fans?”
The words ‘ice-cold’ and ‘raving’ create imagery in the sentence. That’s the magical power of content that includes sensory words. So just don’t write plain sentences. Get creative and flavor your writing by incorporating sensory words.
I’m a big fan of short sentences. Short sentences are clear and easy to understand. They eliminate fluff and make your copy or content tight and punchy.
But, I also use long sentences. Most content writers advocate using short sentences only, but we cannot assume the significance of long sentences in writing. Long sentences add rhythm to your writing. When you use long sentences, it does not necessarily mean you can’t cut across your point using fewer words.
Sometimes, you want to add a bit of drama or vividly describe something in your writing. Long sentences help you achieve that. The key is knowing how to use them well.
For example, this is not an effective long sentence.
“There are a number of reasons why you exactly need a great email marketing tool to capture leads and convert readers into subscribers.”
I can spot a ton of extraneous phrases from the sentence. There’s no rhythm or drama created. As a result, stripping off these extra words will make the sentence choppy.
“You need a great email marketing tool to capture leads.”
Ideally, combining both short and long sentences will yield something magical.
“After running intense A/B testing for our landing pages and changing our CTA buttons from red to green, our conversion rate jumped from 45% to 79.23%. That’s a huge improvement.”
Try to use both short and long sentences in your article to inject drama and tension.
Let’s face it—some niches don’t seem as sexy as others. For example, if you’re not into “pest control,” being assigned a blog on that topic might seem boring. And if it seems boring to you, it will seem boring to your reader. That’s why storytelling is a very useful tool.
Our brains are hardwired to perceive stories. And interesting stories draw a reader to your content and inspire them to take action. Moreover, a story helps a reader to process a message faster and most importantly they can easily remember your brand.
Whether you are writing to entertain, educate, or for marketing purposes, a narrative will emotionally involve your audience. And of course, that’s what you want from them. Emotions will move them to buy, share your article, leave a comment, or sign up for your newsletter.
According to Seth Godin, “People don’t buy goods and services. They buy relationship stories and magic.”
Image source: digitalinformationworld.com
Using a story in your writing helps develop a bond between you and your reader. For one reason, a story is relative. Your audience can relate your stories to their situations and pains.
The question is, how do you use a narrative to impress your readers?
I love how a guy like John Morrow (the founder of Smart Blogger) uses storytelling to capture his reader’s attention.
“Imagine you’re sitting in a lounge chair on the beach, staring over the glittering sea, the ocean breeze ruffling your hair, listening to the slow, steady rhythm of waves.”
And to be honest, I too can imagine myself sitting on that lounge chair.
Overthinking is a killer of creativity. As a writer, you wholly depend on your creativity to create a compelling article, blog post, or email copy. There’s that feeling that tells you that you need to write something magical and perfect.
The fact is, the more you try to be perfect, the more you’ll try to rip off your “awesomeness” in your writing.
Imagine a time you were overthinking gazing at your computer versus when you went to grab a cup of coffee. When were you able to formulate a brilliant idea? Of course not when you were glaring at your computer wondering what to write.
The fact is, you can’t get the best ideas when you are under pressure. Or in other words—through sheer force of will.
If you are looking for a surefire way to accelerate your writer’s block, try overthinking. Self-doubt will overcome you. You’ll begin focusing on the problems in your writing instead of how awesome your writing is. And at last, you will not be making any progress.
If you find out you’re unable to unleash the creativity in you, don’t write any further. Take multiple breaks while writing instead of sitting glaring at a blank white page. Every time you come back to your writing, your brain will be exploding with awesome ideas.
Turning bland writing brilliant is not a one-day process. It takes learning new techniques and a lot of practice.
I call this kind of practice, writing choreography. Just like dancing, you need to keep on learning new moves and practice them so hard. Of course, you don’t want your audience to begin “booing” and giggle at your horrible moves.
By learning how to incorporate a story in your content, writing conversationally and using the right tone you’ll be adding magic to your content. When you practice these tips in your writing every day, you’ll be churning out pure golden content.
James Njoya is a brand story teller. He narrates sweet stories to readers which moves them to read your blog posts, buy, signup for your newsletter and so on. Should you need him to tell your audience a story, the easiest way is finding him on twitter.