Media Shower writer Grace Stephen is well-known for her work in health, medical, and travel writing.
Every once in a while, a good article will suddenly sneak up on a writer. There are seasons in the life of a writer when a book that he or she wrote soars to the number one position on the lists that matter. Sometimes, a blog post will become the center of a long-term discussion, receiving thousands of comments in a single day or a news article will go spectacularly viral. This is the story of a news article I wrote and an evaluation of the aspects that enabled it to go viral.
A Great Start
The article under the spotlight here is a news article called ‘Progeria and a boy called Sam’ written by me, for the Guardian Liberty Voice. If there are two overriding concerns in the world today, they are the quest for youth and good health. The title and opening sentence of my article combines both these concerns to catch the readers’ attention. Another very useful technique that I found works well as a hook to capture and sustain a reader’s attention is to ask questions. According to Ms. Henneke Duistermaat the renowned writer and blogger, asking questions will seduce the reader. My Progeria article begins with two very straightforward questions and the popularity of the article definitely proved Ms.Duistermaat right.
Make it Interesting and Useful
The article on Progeria gave readers useful information in very reader-friendly packaging. What does that mean? It is the fine art of writing something technical in a way that can be easily understood by the man on the street. The advantage of this method is that the article has something for everyone. The student of science is intrigued and the stay-at-home mom is interested and informed. An essential aspect of simplified writing that offers great value to the reader is reducing an element known as the Signal-to-Noise Ratio.
Write with Finesse
All the key factors mentioned above such as a good introduction, asking questions, and easy-to-read content will fall flat unless it is transmitted through the medium of great writing. Great writing goes far beyond the nuts and bolts of grammar, spelling, and vocabulary. Yes, they are the essential and foundational stones of a good piece of writing. However, unless there is more, there is nothing that will elevate the article into a higher realm than that occupied by a textbook or an encyclopedia.
Making someone read a newspaper article twice or keep coming back to a blog to check for new posts requires writing that speaks to them in an intensely personal manner. This necessitates that every word is used after it has been carefully selected from a host of poorer alternatives. The end result must be a piece of writing that is perfectly organized, adequately informative and infinitely a pleasure.
Bring it to Life
Breathe life into every piece of writing. Whether the writing revolves around travel, news, personal views, lifestyles, celebrities, or niches such as technology and health, find ways to personalize it. In the article about Progeria, I deliberately focused on the human interest angle more than the newsflash that the boy had died or the scientific aspects of the illness. It was a story about the boy – his courage, his determination, and eventually, about the courage that it inspires in us. Mere reporting and retelling of facts will never have the impact that telling a story does.
Do you want your writing to be guaranteed of an audience that is informed, inspired and appreciative? Read some success stories of what you can achieve through successful content and then go and create your own.