5 tips for writing irresistible opening sentences
Creating content that goes viral is every writer’s dream. It’s not just the headline of your blog post, article or web page that needs to convey your message and draw readers in. The first sentence will determine whether your readers engage with your content or bounce off.
After your headline, the first hurdle of copywriting is in writing an irresistible opening line. If writing isn’t your thing, get an expert to help you. Otherwise, follow our 5 tried and tested tips to write a tantalising first line your readers will love and share.
1 – Make your reader your imaginary friend
Before you start writing, picture your ideal reader. What makes them tick? What makes them laugh? What sparks their interest? Imagine the questions your reader is asking (you can answer the questions in your copy). Your reader needs to become your best imaginary friend. Once you understand your potential readers, you are in the right headspace to craft your opening line.
And remember, your readers don’t want fluff. They want to be spellbound, and you want your audience to become addicted. Your opening line should spark curiosity and intrigue. Most of all, you have a short window to connect with your reader, so show that you understand him or her, and that what you have written will provide comfort or assistance. Try using a sentence to conjure up a feeling your reader recognises. Emotion wins followers.
And yes, in case you had pondered the idea, you do need to be a psychologist to understand your audience. Well, not really, but almost.
2 – Keep it short and snappy
What is the aim of your first sentence? It’s simple – to get your reader to read your second sentence. That’s all. The easiest way to do that is with a short, snappy sentence. It can even be a single word. Imagine. That was an example by the way. Or use a question. Do you know how easy it is to write an irresistible opening line?
Long, undulating first sentences are the domain of literary geniuses. Unless you are working on a novel, forget the lengthy prose. At least until you’ve hooked your reader in, then you might just get away with the odd long and beautifully crafted sentence. But, only dabble if you’ve already managed to hook your reader.
3 – Ditch the exclamation mark
Yawn. No more unnecessary exclamation marks PLEASE. Overuse of exclamation marks is a sign of laziness. There are of course appropriate places for exclamation marks. Think of duck! or duck. One of them is a life saving call, the other a cute bird on a pond. So, yes there is a place.
But these days, exclamation marks seem to be used like confetti. Peppered through content, they are used frequently to big up a word, when really all that is needed is a bigger word. Let me explain. Take ‘It’s big!’ ‘It’s enormous’ does the job without the need for an exclamation mark. She’s beautiful! But, she’s breathtakingly beautiful, removes the need for an exclamation mark. Penny dropped?
If that argument doesn’t convince you, Donald Trump is a fan of the exclamation mark. According to the Trump Twitter Archive, from January to October 2017 inclusive, the @realdonaldtrump posted 2,127 tweets. They included 1144 exclamation marks. I rest my case.
4 – KISS: Stick to simple language
Pompous language doesn’t speak well to most audiences, and especially when you are writing for the web. Keep your writing simple. That includes sentence structure and the words you choose. Opt for help, rather than facilitate. Or get, rather than obtain. Don’t flummox your reader with flowery prose in your opening line. It’s unattractive visual noise that’s a real turn-off. If you want your opening gambit to be truly irresistible, you’ll need to pack a punch in as few simple words as possible.
5 – Offer hope
It’s pretty obvious no-one wants to be bored to tears, and unless you’re reporting for a news channel, staying positive is essential. Being playful with your words is one way to make your writing irresistible, but most of all offer hope. Are you about to chuck your stapler at your boss? The question infers you understand what a terrible day your reader is having and suggests you may be about to tell them how to change that. Offer something hopeful, interesting and thought provoking in your first sentence and you’ll clinch the deal.
At Artemis, we’ve been marketing websites and our clients online since 2004. If you need help with effective content writing for your business, website design or search engine optimisation, please don’t hesitate to contact us.