Finally someone took me up on my offer to be a guess blogger. My good friend Sha waded into the deep water and provided us all with some great tips and suggestions below. Thank you my friend. You can find Sha’s website here.
How, without further delay, here is Sha’s guest blog on this 4th day of September.
Sub-headers: Engagement or Break-up?
“Lemme tell you what I’m gonna did”. You gotta love Justin Wilson. He captured his audience with his unique Cajun way of speaking.
What does this have to do with the topic at hand? Are you curious enough to read on? If so, I’ve made my point. Well, sort of but not really – at least not yet.
As writers, we need to think like readers. We need to think about what we would enter into our search engines when – well, searching. We need to think about which titles compel us to pick up that book and read the back to see what it’s about. After all, without readers, there would be no need for writers!
The catch is – grabbing your reader and keeping his or her attention throughout your article or book.
Think about what readers are looking for. They want to be satisfied in one of three areas:
- Information – DIY, facts, benefits, safety, best of, how to, etc.
- Entertainment – fun to read, laughter, tears, acting like a fool talking to the computer screen…
- Enlightenment – enrichment, inspiration, motivation, self-help.
How many times have you read an article – or began to read an article and clicked out, only to head back to Uncle Google? Why did you leave? The answer is simple: because you weren’t engaged or you were too bored to finish reading.
How do we avoid this as writers? Again, think like a reader.
Readers don’t want to sit through 3 pages of verbal diarrhea in the form of text. They get bored and leave. So do you, right? In addition to adding photos, videos, etc. you need to give your readers a natural stopping point. Remember when you worked in corporate USA? You took your lunch break when you got to a logical stopping point so you wouldn’t forget where you were in your task.
Readers need the same breaks. Consider them as commercial breaks. Commercials are when viewers take the opportunity to go to the bathroom, feed the pets and raid the fridge. Sub-headings serve the same purpose for your readers.
In order to be effective, sub-headers should elicit one of more of the following:
Spark any of these and chances are good you’ll have your readers following through to the finish line.
Tease but don’t deceive
Your sub-headers should compel your readers to keep moving through your page or book. You don’t want to give the topic away with something obvious. If the above sub-header read, Proper sub-header phrasing would you read it? I wouldn’t because your style of writing probably isn’t the same as mine. If that doesn’t hit home, perhaps this does: Keep in mind the old saying, “why buy the cow if you give the milk away for free?” Keep them guessing.
You want to intrigue your readers into learning what the hell you mean by the sub-headings. At the same time, you don’t want to get so cutesy or off the wall that it doesn’t relate in any way to the topic. If you consider the text below each sub-header as an article or chapter in itself, you will have better chances of keeping your readers engaged and wanting more.
Keep your readers excited, curious, informed and begging for more. They’ll remember you and come back again and again. Better yet, they’ll more than likely spread the word to their friends about this awesome writer, (insert name here).
Now, that my fellow writers, is literary bliss.
I just told you what I’m gonna did as a writer. So how d’ya like them apples?
Shauna L Bowling
Refining, Defining or Rhyming
Copyright © August 2013
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Thanks for stopping by and thank you again to Sha. I will see you all again on Friday with a new blog posting and some tips for you to try out.
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”