Experienced writers have all sorts of ways to begin a story. They can start with dialog…two people talking to each other.
Or, they might begin the by describing a scene, like a “large barn just outside of town that the old-timers say is haunted.”
But here’s a really simple idea I learned from an advertising copywriter. “Don’t waste time,” he said. “Announce the story’s major problem in the very first sentence.”
After he told me this, I started paying attention to more print ads. Many of them actually stated the problem in the headline. Example: “Would you do more walking if your feet didn’t hurt?”
Practice today on how you might begin the biography of a fictional character. Example: “Little Red Riding Hood left her house to take cookies to Grandma, but her path led through dense woods full of dangerous animals.”
If you believe – as I do – that a one minute (or shorter) message is the wave of the future, how can you send an effective one? Here are ten brief thoughts:
1. SINGLE THEME – Stick to one main point, and reveal it at the first of the message. If you’ve got two or three points to make, stress the most important first…and use the others as supporting points.
2. AGE – There’s some research that claims the younger the audience, the shorter message it wants. Reason? Folks under 35 are used to receiving information in brief form.
3. MINI-PARAGRAPHS – Because people on-the-go want briefer messages, they likely want short sentences and short paragraphs too. Consider paragraphs of three sentences or less.
4. NEED IDEAS? – I think the best messages are radio commercials. Listen to how well they create images — and motivate listeners — in one minute or less.
5. EXPERT ADVICE – Most folks want – and pay attention to -advice from experts.
6. CURRENT EVENTS – Can you link your feature with a current event or popular trend?
7. PROGNOSTICATOR – Does your story predict the future of an event or industry?
8. FAMOUS QUOTE – Does a famous quote – or quote by a famous person — add emphasis to your story?
9. HEADLINE HINT – Don’t write your headline until you’ve finished writing your story. It’s easier to make the headline summarize the story than it is to write a headline, then write the story to fit it.
10. POPULAR HEADLINES – In our experience, the two most popular headlines are those that (a) ask a question or (b) present a list…like the story you’re reading now.
Rix Quinn’s new e-book: https://www.kobo.com/ww/en/ebook/how-to-sell-ideas-with-the-minute-message?utm_campaign=shopping_feed_se_en&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc