Is your writing all meatloaf and mashed potatoes and no jalapeño and oregano? If so, you may be focusing on format and forgetting about what Ernest Hemingway called vigorous language.
We’ve talked a lot lately about how to structure your writing to make it accessible. While an easily digestible format is a critical part of effective content presentation, you don’t want to leave out the succulent seasoning.
Remember, beyond bullet points, numbered lists and compelling subheadings, it’s still the words themselves that matter most. It’s how you say it that will determine whether your audience sings your praises or heads for the hills, so don’t forget to add some zing to your language.
Here are three techniques that will have you bringing zesty back to your blog in no time.
1. Use Sensuous Language
When I say sensuous, I mean you should appeal to the senses, as opposed to the more erotic connotations associated with the companion word sensual. Sex does sell though, so I’ll leave that to your discretion.
While using visual language is critical, a sure-fire way to plant your ideas firmly in someone’s head is to appeal to all five senses. Through the use of imagery, you’re painting a more complete picture in the reader’s mind, which practically guarantees a higher level of engagement.
The crackling flames danced manically upon the charring husk of the car, illuminating the starless night sky as I stood and watched helplessly. Warm canyon winds pushed the pungent smoke into my face and nostrils, and I tasted my own salty tears at the thought of the laptop in the back seat. All I could think was, how am I going to blog this?
2. Employ High Impact Wording
Too often in our haste to produce content, we become careless with our words and phrases. If how you say it is the key to reader engagement, the first words that come to mind may not be the best words.
- Instead of brave, why not heroic?
- Instead of big, why not gigantic, tremendous or monumental?
- Try rejuvenating, invigorating or exhilarating instead of fresh.
- Go with chuckle, chortle or guffaw just for laughs.
- Why be frank when you can explode the myths about X and Y?
- It’s not new, it’s a glimpse into the future.
Simple words are the rule, but your thesaurus can help you sprinkle potent and distinctive exceptions throughout your writing. High impact words and phrases keep your reader engrossed via vibrant and vigorous language.
3. Be Entertaining
Coming up with an entertaining angle, using interesting language and making knowing references will always be a hit with your readers. Please notice that I didn’t say funny. Funny is hard… any professional humor writer will tell you he writes 10 jokes for every 2-3 keepers. That’s a rough ratio for a busy blogger.
Besides, look at most television commercials. In the quest for funny, most of these advertisements forget that there’s another point—to sell something. You want to make sure you’re not losing sight of your own blogging goals in the quest for a laugh.
The key to an entertaining blog post is to toss in some lightheartedness, especially if your topic is somewhat dry. Tongue-in-cheek references to popular culture or the peculiarities of your industry will help your readers smile and more closely identify with you. Just make sure you’re not being too obscure, or you may leave a sizable chunk of your audience in the dark.
Develop a Distinctive Voice
Over time, you’ll find which techniques work for you. While you’ll always want to keep pushing your boundaries, a writer who is comfortable and confident in her own style naturally ends up an effective writer.
At that point, you’ll be more likely to go with your instincts and not second-guess yourself. If you feel like writing a post that makes corny references to common cooking spices in the opening and close, you’ll just do it.
Well… I could curry on with this sage advice, but I’m short on thyme. And yes, these spice puns are so bad it’s beyond bay leaf, and I’m certainly parsley to blame. Good thing I’m not trying to be funny.
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