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How the few among us do it? What kind of secret do they hide from us? How can they write copy or blog post that captures you with its simultaneous sincerity and simplicity, yet being capable of conveying powerful message that strike us and wound our souls every time they put their fingers on the keyboard?
When it comes to copywriting or content writing I can comfortably say – You cannot get born with it. You have to earn it, learn it, and practice it.
There has been a good and long debate of the physiology of a good and engaging blog post article, content writing call it whatsoever. With the introduction of the recent changes in the Google’s search algorithm and of course the advent of the content marketing, many have opted for the challenges of learning this discipline.
However only few succeed.
One of my favorite bloggers Jeff Goins used to say –
You know that you wrote well if you witness tears falling on the keyboard caused by shattering yourself and letting the world embrace your pain.
However now I am not going to tearfully share about my dark experience when I was fired from the Stipend program conducted by one on the world’ leading banks in my country of origin.
I intend to share a recipe helping you write an exceptional copy. Or at least I will try to do so.
The secret? This is what I consider to be the ultimate recipe:
Master the art of great first sentences
Teach yourself how to write short stories
That is my recipe. Now Let’s analyze its ingredients
Unless you write the next Harry Potter series of book you must abandon this foolish framework at once and enter the realm of real content writing. This leads us to the second part of the recipe
Master the art of great first sentences
As per the words of one of my favorite bloggers Demian Fanworth –
The headline captures the attention. The first sentence keeps it.
I am sure that you have been overwhelmed with sufficient lectures about how to craft a compelling headline. However how many such classes you had for the purpose of mastering the art of writing a first sentence?
Before we roll let’s witness some great first sentences that Demian states as example for us coming from David Sedaris:
- My father always struck me as the sort of man who under the right circumstances might have invented the microwave oven or transistor radio.”
- “When Hugh was in the fifth grade, his class took a field tip to an Ethiopian slaughterhouse.”
- “I was on ‘Oprah’ a while ago, talking about how I used to love too much.”
- “As a favor to my pastor, Carlton Manning has hired me to work at his service station even though I am unable to drive.”
These are sentences that are inviting and lurking us to find something more about the opening character:
- Something made Sedaris thinks of his father as a kind of scientist. What was that?
- Carlton Manning, someone who doesn’t drive, works at car service station? This smells on irony and irony is comic and compelling
And now, Demian offers a recipe for writing great first sentences:
- Find the hook What really draws people? Sex? Violence? Strange circumstances? Bizarre people? Surprising statements? Controversial positions? You must find out what works for your audience
- Get rid of the first paragraph. Or two. Often, just to get started, we will throw everything on the table in the first couple of sentences. This is a tendency from school to explain what you are about to tell the reader. We spoke about this above
- Read lots of Sedaris. Or Truman Capote. Hemingway. Any great writer of fiction or non-fiction.
- Type out a list of great first lines. Make this a long list. This will get you to concentrate and absorb the elements of the sentence. My list is currently filled from bloggers like Jeff Goins (Goinswriter), Leo Widrich (The Buffer Blog), Michael Hyatt, The Hubspot Blog, and My Mother Fucked Mick Jagger
- Review your list every time you write a first sentence. Make sure you expand and take a note of the best ones you start to come up with
Now let’s move on to the second part of our recipe!
Mastering the art of writing a short story is a very difficult one and still fundamental that most of world’s best bloggers and writers would want to keep it as secret.
No more secrets. In fact it is not really a secret. It is more like a matter of guidance. Every master of writing short story has so far studied the work of the great Ernest Hemingway, who despite his Nobel winning achievements had lots of difficulties starting a story. However he had found a way out. This is what he said he did:
Sometimes when I was started on a new story and I could not get going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.”
Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
Repeat this – Write the truest sentence that you know. One true sentence!
Call it the truth, call it the controlling idea, call it the premise, what we need to do is think about what we want the reader to come away from the story believing. What do you passionately believe? What makes you want to grab people by the shoulders and shake them until they agree with you? That’s One True Sentence.
Storytelling is the creative demonstration of truth. A story is the living proof of an idea, the conversion of idea to action. A story’s event structure is the means by which you first express, then prove your idea – without explanation.
Write One True Sentence. Or maybe write one true first sentence or even true paragraph. Putting the recipe to the test, the following paragraph coming up from this blog post will practically show us how this can be done
Have you ever felt like you did everything right — followed all the rules, took all the right turns, made all the difficult decisions a person is supposed to make — only to get the opposite of what you wanted?
Maybe you built a successful business that was taken down by someone else’s stupid mistake. Maybe you bent over backwards to hold your marriage or dating relationship together, and it still fell apart.
Maybe you got the degree but still couldn’t find a job. Maybe you studied and studied and studied (and studied) for that test, but thanks to a few rogue questions, you didn’t get a good grade.
This is what has worked for me from the beginner’s slums of my writing career up to this point. Of course it took time and effort to evolve over time as so every other great thing that comes in our lives. Make best use of this approach and share what exactly has worked for you so far.