For most writers, the body of an article is the easy part. Creating an introduction that will entice the reader to read that body is a little more difficult. Referred to as a hook, it means capturing someone’s attention and being able to maintain that interest enough that they read the entire piece.
The writer must effectively engage the reader with a few well-chosen words to create interest. That can be a valid point, an argument, pertinent facts, or sufficient data that the reader wants more.
Words are a writer’s building blocks for both the foundation and the structure. Writers strive to communicate effectively and accurately with more information packed into fewer words. It’s an ongoing task, but one that can be successfully met with preparation and creativity.
Headlines and Titles
Tabloids’ stock-in-trade consists of grabbing attention with headlines. They’re outlandish, exaggerated, and preposterous, but we remember them.
Headlines and titles are the first place to start when trying to hook readers. Try to remember the last time a newspaper or magazine evoked your curiosity enough to pick up that publication. What exactly drew you in? A mood? A feeling? An emotion?
When writing headlines, titles, or the introduction, choose words wisely. Remember that unlike tabloids, sensationalism is not your goal.
Even a great message cannot stand alone on the merit of a title. There must also be something substantial to say, and it must be worded creatively and concisely. Keep these questions in mind:
- What is the specific message? If the topic is too broad, the reader will feel overwhelmed and leave. Focus on two or three key points or ideas to use as the hook. Links to a website or other resources can be used if the reader wants more information.
- Who is the audience? Knowing the reader demographics helps stay on topic for that audience. Not all readers are interested in the same things. Write to one group of readers at a time.
- Is this interesting? If the writer is bored or uninterested, chances are that the reader will be also. Have a friend, relative, or coworker read the document and submit feedback. Make changes as necessary based on their comments.
- Is this current? In most cases, the reader wants to know, in microwave edition, what is going on in their world right now. Old news will be ignored unless it brings a fresh, unique approach to the topic.
Getting anyone’s attention for more than a split second is difficult. Persuading them to become interested and continue reading seems impossible. The fact remains that people read. They just want it condensed and useful. Writers have a huge responsibility before them, but taking the time to develop solid headlines and introduction paragraphs makes the challenge attainable.