“My father was a writer; my mother was a copy editor,” explains Meredith Gould, Ph.D. “It’s in my blood. My father used to say, ‘Kill your copy pets.’”
This is part two of a two-part series featuring writing tips from Gould. She’s an author (seven books!) and social media trailblazer who has been named one of 11 social media faces to follow by Fierce Health IT.
If you missed it, take a look at part one, Don’t Scare Your Readers: Five Tips for a Friendly Voice. You’ll find some valuable advice there.
But back to “copy pets.” “When I’m writing, if I have something that I absolutely adore, and I’m getting enthralled with my own cleverness but it doesn’t quite fit, I take the whole thing out. It’s just not working.”
More tips from Gould:
Don’t be afraid to drop your lead
I write the lead to know where I’m going. But the first paragraph is usually a lot of throat-clearing and warmup. People really don’t get to the point until the second or third paragraph. Seven or 8 times out of 10 you can get rid of your first paragraph and you’ll be much better off.
Let your writing sit for a day
When possible, let something sit for a day. It will be better for it.
Target 400 words in a blogpost – less for online content
The visual real estate on your website onscreen is very limited. You have a tiny bit of real estate. Long blog posts force readers to scroll down, and they lose interest. Four hundred words is just about the most that a screen can handle.
For web copy it’s even fewer words. Two hundred words is a lot.
For long blogposts, warn your readers
If you’re going to write a long blogpost, do a headnote to warn the reader. Explain that it’s a little longer and they should save it for when you have time. You might lose the reader, but you’re giving notice.
Make your blog a mini-series
If it’s going to be more than 400 words, make it a mini-series. You can write a 1500 word piece, just don’t put it all in one post. Alert readers to what’s going on. It gives people something to look forward to.
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