Tips For Interactive Media Writing

writing_for_webWhy some people write better than others? Is there is simple way to improve our writing skills? There are hundreds of blogs written on that particular topic. As I was looking through some of them, two posts actually caught my attention:
“7 Ways To Improve Your Writing… Right Now” and
“Ernest Hemingway’s Top 5 Tips For Writing Well”. Both outline several simple rules to follow. While they are useful, I feel that the topic deserves some additional discussion in regards to online media and the final summary.

Both blogs suggest writing in short, clear sentences. Keep it simple. As much as I agree with this statement, there is a question a writer should answer to first.

Who is your audience? Who are you writing for?

A good writer doesn’t write for himself; like a good designer designs for his clients.

Should you write short and simple?
Should you empower your text with rich, diverse and complex structures so it requires a whole different level of comprehension from the reader?

It all depends on your targeted audience.

Many recent scientific studies show that readers scan through the website pages much faster and more selective than they do while reading a novel or a poem (“The Online Advertising Playbook”, Chapter 5: Display Advertising Online, p. 87). Ernest Hemingway was first a journalist, than a writer. So, it’s only natural he advised to write in short, simple sentences. One thing that journalist articles and online posts have in common is that readers usually go through them very fast looking for the things that interest them.

Short and simple sentences that deliver a clear message – that’s what works best in the online media world. The blogs suggest sticking to three part/paragraphs of the text, but I would rather advise breaking the text into as many parts as you need. Psychological researches show that a human mind percepts and remembers seven plus/minus two points simultaneously. Moreover, five paragraphs have always been a template for a good classical essay. Also, clearly stated bullets visually separated from one another are easier to read, hence easier to remember.

Let’s sum up the first 3 rules of good writing for interactive media:

  • Keep it short and simple;
  • Stay on topic;
  • Break the text up.

Now that we have the basic rules, it’s time to spice our writing up. After all, the main idea is to catch reader’s attention during the first precious seconds he scans through your text.

Add action. One of the blogs we’re discussing suggests taking food, sex, and danger in order to hook reader up. However, I would broaden the topics list. The general modern reader craves action and performance. He wants to be entertained within a short period of time. Also, the reader’s mind works within five main senses. While reading, he always refers to these senses. The best way to affect the reader is to use active verbs in text instead of passive verbs. “He slammed his fist on the table and gritted his teeth” sounds much more vivid and precise than “he was angry”.

Be creative in your writing. Common expressions like “as drunk as a horse” simplify the process of reading. You, probably, added “horse” to “as drunk as” even before the sentence was finished. Yet, here is a question. Would you remember the text for something you already know or for something you’ve never heard before? “As drunk as a fish” attracts immediate attention. Your mind goes “What!?”

Repeat the crucial point in a non-intrusive, smart way. Most common advice of the editors is: don’t repeat yourself. Although, true in case of novels, repetition works very well in advertising if it’s performed in a smart way. Paraphrase. Put some distance between the ideas you intend to repeat. Advertise your ideas so that the reader remembers them, albeit not repulsed by their disruptions.

Be positive, not negative. This is another very good tip from the mentioned blogs that I agree with. Human perception works in a positive way. Like a rebellious teenager, a reader sees “not expensive” and remembers “expensive” instead of “cheap”. Don’t complicate things for your readers. Simplify. One word is always better than two when your reader is scanning through the page in search of an interesting topic.

Finally, remember: writing is a talent, yet good writing is a carefully developed skill.

  • Know your audience.
  • Be concrete, clear, and short.
  • Visually separate your points.
  • Use active verbs to express action.
  • Be creative and daring in your writing.
  • Repeat the crucial points in a non-intrusive way.
  • Be positive in your writing.

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