As content writers, we are asked to market and sell in ways that are both engaging and informative. We walk a fine line between entertaining and providing the necessary material to inform readers. Thinking of the perfect ways to market content, my brain cannot help but think of the works of Agatha Christie. From The Mysterious Affair at Styles through the final pages of Curtain, Christie imparts wisdom that even the greatest writers can benefit from.
Growing up, I was obsessed with the Dame Agatha Christie. In particular, her Hercule Poirot novels drew me in. At times Poirot’s mysteries can be light, holding a reader’s attention through humor. During others, the reader is pulled through chapter after chapter using suspense. Each new page provides information and clues, but still Christie’s work continues to entertain and engage. She uses all of these tactics to build to the final memorable conclusions she is famous for.
Lesson 1: Tell a Story and Build Connections
Tell a story with your content and create a bond between the reader and yourself. In Christie’s novels, she hooks reader into unfamiliar situations with the familiarity of characters. George Currie talks about this in his 1990 publication, “The Paradox of Caring: Fiction and the Philosophy of Mind.” He states that “we experience genuine emotions when we encounter fiction… the story provokes thoughts about real people and situations, and these are the intentional objects of our emotions” (1990, p. 188). According to Currie, when we feel a connection in fiction, it is because the characters are evoking our memories of similar people and situations. Christie is careful to make sure characters are relatable. She wants the reader to build these associations. In content writing, telling a story will breed an emotional response between the reader and content. This emotional response creates a connection that the reader will take away long after they have finished reading.
Lesson 2: Comic Relief Goes a Long Way
Look at your content and ask yourself, “Is this too mundane;” “If I read this, would I be invested?” Content will not sell itself, but humor can. Look at your product and your story and find appropriate places to lighten your piece. In the gravest moments, Christie is careful to insert comic relief. This is important not only to keep the reader engaged, but to ensure that content stands a chance, regardless of any preconceived notions. According to a study by Barbara L. Fredrickson from the University of Michigan, building new positive associations can actually reverse negative ones. Therefore, inserting comic relief and humor into your content can actually reverse any preconceived notions readers have. I will be the first to admit this strategy works, because it has worked on me numerous times. In fact, I call it The Paltrow Effect. For whatever reason, I never liked Gwyneth Paltrow. I cannot explain why. It was just a petty, and inexplicable feeling. She simply, “rubbed me the wrong way.” Then, one day, I saw Ms. Paltrow on a talk show, and she was wonderful and funny. After that, I saw more of her movies, and I liked them. I even watched films I previously disliked, and enjoyed them more because my negative associations had faded. The Paltrow Effect is powerful. Something as simple as positivity and humor will breed positive associations between the reader and content later.
Lesson 3: Create the Final Perfect Bow
The most rewarding part of any novel is when everything falls into place. This is especially true when bits and pieces of information from earlier chapters finally fit into the puzzle. This is essential for content writing. Make sure important information is sprinkled throughout, but don’t forget to tie those pieces together in the conclusion. Do not deprive your reader of that final satisfying moment; help them fit the pieces together and give them the conclusion they will think about later.
While Agatha Christie is renowned for her mysteries and deception, her stories hold advice that any writer, regardless of their field, can benefit from. It is with simple adjustments and tools that good content becomes great. Keeping the reader invested through connections, humor, and satisfying conclusions is all it takes to make a piece memorable.
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Media Shower writer Dani Jenkins is well known for her work in education, marketing, and environmental sectors.