Before you set out on writing your article, first consider “What is your underlying argument?" and "What are you saying to support it?" Knowing what the argument is in the first place is a good way for writers to keep on track.
Answer a question
You don’t have to pose a literal question in your headline to answer a question, but you do need to suggest to your reader what you’re covering. On the surface, a headline like 5 Weird Al Songs that Outshine the Originalsdoesn’t sound like a question. But what FANDOM Contributor Eric Fuchs’s article is really saying is “which Weird Al songs are better than the original?” Because this is a listicle-style article, it then gives five answers to the question.
Ok, listicles are an easy one, how about this one: Hack the Planet: A Look at the ’90s Cyberpunk Explosion?Before we look at what it’s doing, have a think about what you’d expect to find in an article like this.
FANDOM Contributor Danielle Ryan’s headline says it’s a “look at the ‘90s cyberpunk explosion”, but whether you know what cyberpunk is or not, the article should tell you what it is, and then discuss its huge popularity during the 1990s. So Danielle answers the question “what was the explosion of the cyberpunk genre that happened in the ‘90s?”
Look deeper into this article and you’ll find that the opening sentences define the genre in a creative way without talking down to the reader and further sets the scene in relation to its time in history and why it exploded. In a broad sense, the introduction answers the question, but it does so in a way that entices the reader to continue and find out more and dig in deeper to a genre that they may or may not have known about before.
Clear perspective and point of view
Other than “this thing happened,” what do you have to say? Take a unique angle for your article or provide more thorough analysis than anyone else.
Your audience wants to understand why they should care and why they should be reading about this thing you’re so passionate about. Let them into the world you love through your unique perspective.
FANDOM Contributor Danielle Ryan’s article ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Is Our American Dystopia takes a clear point of view that’s obvious even from its headline. Even if you don’t know The Handmaid’s Tale, the headline clearly implies the property has something to do with a dystopic world and the article comes at this property with the perspective that it may reflect Danielle’s feelings about a modern-day dystopia in the United States.
Digging into the article, the opening few sentences outline Danielle’s perception of a modern-day American dystopia and how it might relate to the novel and Hulu series A Handmaid’s Tale. Whether the reader agrees or disagrees with Danielle’s statements is up to the reader to decide, but she maintains a clear and unique point of view from the headline and follows it through to the end.
Make them feel something
Your article may make us giggle, feel happy or nostalgic or curious or inspired or cry. Whatever it might be, your writing should evoke some sort of emotional reaction.
One way to get a reader to feel something is by sharing a personal experience. In FANDOM Contributor Chrissie Miille’s article The Catalyst to My Fandom: Animation Rekindled My Love of Science, she reminisces on her journey of how the animated shows Danny Phantom and Gravity Falls inspired her to return to a science field. For many readers, this journey will resonate as an inspiration or spark their nostalgia for the things they once loved to get involved in when they were younger.
However, while personal experiences are great for emotional reactions, even articles like FANDOM Contributor Graham Host’s 8 Great Shows With Only One Season can get a reader feeling all the feels too. Perhaps the reader will feel angry that a show was or wasn’t included - “They should’ve added my favorite show!” Or perhaps it will inspire curiosity about a show they’d never heard of or sad that one of the entries on the list was their favorite show and they wish that it had stayed on TV.
There are a great many ways to evoke a genuine feeling in a reader without being manipulative. Explore what interests you and what lights your fire and put that into your work.
Your first goal as a writer is to draw in your reader. This is usually done by addressing the reader’s expectations, answering a question, having a clear perspective, and evoking some kind of emotional response. Once you have their attention, this is your chance to shine, show off your expertise and deep understanding of the topic, and wow the reader with your unique you-ness.
You can’t control whether your reader will share your article, but you can write something in a way no one else can. Consider the article that would make you share it with your friends, and then write that.
FANDOM Contributor Zuleika’s article Fans Can Rejoice ‘Code Geass’ Returns For Season 3 is one that strongly appeals to its target audience. Using eye-catching gifs from the anime, smart and easy to identify subheadings, and short, snappy paragraphs that gave both news and a well-rounded background on the series made this a success on social media.