Ann Wylie (@annwylie) of Wylie Communications, Inc., is a rock star, and you should follow her (both on Twitter and in her writing practices). Yesterday, I was lucky enough to attend an IABC Triangle event held at SAS. Pretty much, Ann spouted wisdom for several hours. I wrote furiously. Oh, and tweeted (see some of my tweets in Ann’s storify story).
According to Ann, the above paragraph is too long. This one is about the right length for writing on the web.
I also learned that anything over two syllables is a “hard” word and your average characters/word should equal no more than 5. The WSJ keeps it at 4.8.
I knew I liked short and sweet! This day was, as Mama Booth would (and did, in an email) say, “right up [my] alley!”
Two-sentence paragraphs are hard.
A few other gems:
- Social media: become an informer instead of a me-former
- To catch a reader, you have to think like one. Use the bait readers like, not the bait you like.
- Write about holes, not drills.
- Information is free, attention is expensive.
- Your first paragraph should be a bridge, not a wall.
- Ask your clients for fact-checking, not approval. You’re the communications expert.
- Write pieces an inch wide and a mile deep (this post: FAIL).
- Screen reading is tough; don’t make it tougher for your reader.
- Facts sell. Stop with the chest-pounding and get some evidence.
- Your fact to fluff ratio: 1:1
- Sexy verbs, people. SEXY VERBS.
- Finally, from the audience: readers want to know, “Is the juice worth the squeeze?” In other words, is the reward I expect from reading your content greater than the effort to read it? MUCH greater? Great.