Every story has drama built into it. In this video tutorial, journalist and writing coach Starshine Roshell shows you how to search for the natural drama in your blog post or news article, whether it be conflict, prominence or timeliness, and pull it up into your headline for maximum reader appeal.
- [Voiceover] Every good story has natural drama built into it, whether it's the inescapable fate of star-crossed lovers or your average guy jumping through hoops just trying to get a standing desk for his cubicle. A compelling tale is made up of two or more forces acting in opposition to one another and the tension that results from that struggle. If the writer has done her job, and you may be the writer or you may be tasked with writing a headline for another writer's story, it should be clear by reading the story or even just the beginning of the story, what that drama is.
But even if the writer left you hanging and the story lacks obvious tension or excitement, the headline writer needs to go hunting for it. Draw it out and slap it up there in a big bold point size to engage readers, to capture their attention and pique their interest in reading further. So what kind of headlines get attention? There are certain things that humans just love to read about, that we find psychologically irresistible. If you can get elements of those things into your headlines, then you've got a great shot of catching eyeballs as they flip past.
One is conflict. We're drawn to the inherent drama in a battle, whether it's a battle between neighbors, nations or brands of soda. "The Four Business Skills Recruiters "Are Looking for and Not Finding." This headline sets up conflict by showing that recruiters can't find what they need, and this is especially compelling to readers who may be looking for work. What if I'm the solution to that problem? Another tool you can use is prominence. We like to read about famous people, popular brands, well-known places.
Familiarity draws us in, we can't help it. We like what we know. So look for the familiar names, faces and places in your story and bring them out front, up top, into your headline. Like this, "Five Amazing Visual Effects "from Mad Max: Fury Road." Timeliness is another great attention getter, going back to urgency of the four Us. It's not enough to tell your readers why they need to know something. You have to telL them why they need to know it now.
Consider adding words or phrases like "right now," "this week," or "today." Like in these examples. "Why is poke so hot right now? "Here are nine restaurants you'll want to try." Or, "Ten things you need to know today." Tell them why they need to know it now, and you'll be more likely to keep their gaze.
How do you sum up an entire story in a few words? Starshine shows you how to preview a story, pull out the relevant benefits, and pack them into a pithy headline. Find out how to use style to engage your readers—writing with vibrant, active language, being truthful, and telling readers what they need to know in a timely way. She also stresses the importance of mechanics, showing you how to correctly and effectively use punctuation and capitalization in headlines. Plus, get details on when to write subheads, how to employ keywords for SEO, and the background on headline trends, all with loads of examples along the way.
- Construct attention-grabbing headlines.
- List the four Us of great headlines.
- Name three problems that arise from using long headlines.
- Explain how to use active verbs to enhance a headline.
- Identify trends that are helpful in creating fresh headlines.
- Use proper mechanics to craft grammatically correct headlines.
- Compose a subhead to share additional critical details.
- Summarize the benefits of using strong keywords in headlines.