Writing for Scanners by Annmarie Miles
Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Annmarie Miles as she shares with us about “Writing for Scanners.” Enjoy!
I heard a great phrase a couple of years ago that has stayed with me. The speaker said, “We live in a pierce & ding age. You pierce the top of a frozen meal, a few minutes in the microwave; and DING; it’s ready.” The point she was making was about how fast things happen now, and how we’ve gotten used to it. People look for instant responses to emails, we don’t like to wait for webpages to load, and we pay to see the preview episode of our favourite box set; because we just can’t wait.
These days, few have the time or the inclination to linger.
Printed books are not in any danger of disappearing, despite the popularity of ereaders. However, online reading – websites and reading blog posts etc – is a very different experience. As time goes on, it’s getting harder and harder to jostle for attention in the midst of such a vast choice, and the little time people have to read them all.
Bloggers and readers rarely follow just one or two. Many follow many blogs, but don’t have time for lengthy, heavy-duty posts. The pierce n’ ding age has produced a generation of scanners. Think of how you flick through Facebook and Twitter, only stopping when something really catches your eye.
So how do we write for folk who scan and skim?
- Don’t make your posts too short or long. No shorter than 400, no longer than 750.
- List your points with bullets or numbers.
- Think of a cute snappy title
- Let your readers know it’ll be a quick and useful read: Three ways to… Five ideas for…
- Keep it conversational. That might sound like a hard thing to do if you’re post is split into bullet points; but it can be sharp without being robotic.
- Use an eye-catching image
- Give people the opportunity to contribute to the conversation
You don’t need to complete your thought, or come to a firm conclusion. This is a great way to encourage interaction.
I’m going to keep it short this month, to give you time to read other blogs. And maybe comment on this one.
So we’d love you to tell us… Are you a scanner? What grabs you?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Annmarie Miles, part time writer, full time believer is 40something, Irish, Christian, married, and proud to be all of those things. She loves words, music & chocolate! You can find out all about her and her book “The Long & The Short of It” at the new website: www.annmariemiles.com.