How To Write Articles That Demand Readership

Dec. 12, 2006 – You have 3-5 seconds to stop a reader and persuade him or her to read further. Here are five techniques I have used to hopefully stop readers in their tracks and lead them into the article.

1. Your headline is the key. Don’t be cute. Don’t use funny phrases. Don’t confuse people. They turn the page faster than you can hit a key on your computer. Write a headline that fits into their life. We all know some of the key action words such as love, hate, terror, mistakes. Use action words in your headline built around a subject that will probably interest many of the readers of that publication.

Five mistakes almost everybody makes writing emails
How to add an hour of free time to your day
That terror on the highway could be you!

2, Use internet research to check the popularity of your subject. Type in key words from your article into google. How many pages does google display on that subject? Do the same with . How many books are being offered on that subject? Don’t be dismayed by competition. That is a good sign that the subject is high in public awareness. During World War II the OSS searched for key words in German newspapers. The frequent use of the word “food” often meant there were food shortages in particular cities. (The propaganda writers may have been writing that there were “no food shortages” – that didn’t have to be written if there were no problem.)

3. Use a subhead to continue to hold their interest. If your headline was –
Five mistakes almost everybody makes writing emails
Your Subhead could be:
: A prominent stockbroker tells about an email blooper that cost him over $125,000

4. Your first paragraph must expand on the interest you have attracted. Don’t digress. Don’t change the subject. Add more interesting facts that support your theme. Beverly Sills wouldn’t start singing Carmen to an applauding audience and suddenly switch to ganster rap..

5. The magazine you want to write for can teach you how to write for them. Clip some articles that you really like from that publication, Now cut outf the headline, subhead, first paragraph, foloow-up paragraphs, and ending. Paste these elements on separate sheets of paper. Write by each element what technnique the writer was using to capture attention, advance the story line and keep you reading. Soon you’ll have a complete blueprint of a successful article – a “formula” that the publication’s editor already likes!. Use your own words in following that blueprint – type of headline, how the writer developed the idea, developed the theme in following paragraphs, pull various threads of the article into a useful and interesting read.. That’s known as reverse engineering. Car manufacturers have used that technique for years to learn the secrets of their competition.

I have put more of my suggestions based on my interviews with Robert Ludlum and James Michener in “On writing well,” a chapter in my new book, “Reinvent Yourself.” You can preview the chapter on the web at

Good writing and good luck,

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