The biggest and most common mistake new bloggers make is this: they start at the beginning.
If you want to write magnetic content, here’s my secret – start at the exciting bit.
Readers are an unforgiving bunch – you typically have a line or two at most to grab their attention, and to hold it, you must promise to solve a problem for them. Here’s my promise.
If you read my story last week about the four essential interview questions for every case study, you will know where to start your story.
No, it’s not with the answer to questions one or two (what’s your name and title and what do you do, in a nutshell). It’s with the answer to either question three (why do you do what you do) or question four (what lessons have you learned).
Here’s an example for a recent story I wrote for BRW:
It was a herculean brief, but UM Australia accepted it. In the face of the dire and tenacious decline of newspaper circulation, News Corp Australia challenged UM Australia to turn the tide and to boost the daily circulation of its newspapers.
Even if we are writing a simple news report, the trick is to start at the best bit:
When experienced CEOs reflect on their first leadership role, they readily admit they lacked the skills to be fully productive and effective. That is the finding of the latest survey by Leadership and Management Australasia.
The same goes for a ‘How-To’ story:
Promotion is an essential element of any retention strategy. We all want some challenge and development, and a promotion is recognition and a reward for effort.
It’s easy to get wrong, however.
When you start at the exciting bit, you fire up your own energy and interest in the story you are writing and that will shine through.
If you start with: ‘Paul Hilgers is the CEO of share trading company Optiver Asia Pacific’, you will want to fall asleep, and so will your readers.
The start of any story is the hardest part, as we all know. I used to get quite stuck at the start of my stories, unable to capture their essence in the first few sentences.
I’ll finish this post with three of the best first lines that I know of:
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice (1813)
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
George Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)
“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.”
Franz Kafka: Metamorphosis (1915).