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  1. #1
    SitePoint Guru bronze trophy
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    Are Your Headlines Writing Checks Your Opening Paragraph Can't Cash?

    Everybody talks about how important your headline is. What is the job of the headline? To get your first sentence read.

    And your first sentence is where most readers hit a speed bump, then stop reading -- even with a killer headline.

    Writers call it a hook. Anglers know, once a fish takes the bait, you give a strong tug to "set" the hook. While the headline baits the reader, it's the job of the opening paragraph to set the hook.

    Lost in the excuse "readers scan on the web," was any technique or skill in writing. Let's try some alternatives.

    The Short Stack

    They corrupt.

    They destroy data.

    They shorten system lifetime.

    A short stack of one-sentence paragraphs can draw the reader in quickly. You then explain what "they" are in a longer paragraph. By then, the reader has invested their time, and will stick with you long enough for you to get to the point.

    You must then get to the point. It must be the right point.

    One company ran an ad with the headline "A Submarine That Flies?" Then followed with the opening "Well, we really don't have a submarine that flies, but...

    Nobody read further, and the ad flopped. The reason is simple: Readers felt tricked.

    If your opening doesn't fit well into your title or headline, you've lost the majority of your readers.

    Picture This.

    Story or copy, blog or whatever, set your scene. Essentially the theme of this kind of opening is "picture this." You don't have to write those words, merely use the idea of setting the scene to draw a word picture in the reader's mind.

    You can find opening that compel you from books you've read. What you're trying to do hold the reader's attention and develop attention into reader interest. You could call it what's-in-it-for-me part of what you are writing.

    Using some simple techniques, you can avoid losing the reader before you've had a chance to really grab them. Too many writer chase the reader's attention like a dog chasing a car. If they ever caught it, they wouldn't know what to do.


    Related:

    Attention Grabbing Beginnings


    Attention Grabbing Beginnings (Part 2)

  2. #2
    SitePoint Enthusiast CoreyFreeman's Avatar
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    Awesome tips! Rhetorical questions are an oldie but a goodie as well. The proper question will get people reading to find its answer.

  3. #3
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    The proper question will get people reading to find its answer.
    I shall try this 'question technique' you speak of. Perhaps in a forum post headline.

    ...nah, that'd never work.


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