Eight thoughts about the length of your listicle Thank you, David Letterman. The Top 10 list rules the Web — or at least, Buzzfeed. The number of Buzzfeed listicles with the numeral 10 in the headline outranked the next most popular numeral (15) by 142%, according to research by Noah Veltman and Brian Abelson, two Knight-Mozilla fellows. Fiddle around with … [Read more...] about I’ve got a little list
Cut Through the Clutter
Audition your words to go in, not out When Lynn Wylie, aka Best Sister Ever, sent me an Unfancy blog post arguing that all you need to look great every day is a capsule wardrobe of 37 items per season, I scoffed. After all, Dear Reader, Aunt Ann is a maximalist. I love Jessica Harper's quote in Pennies From Heaven: "It's not the money; it's the stuff!" My jewelry … [Read more...] about How is editing like closet tidying?
The Times' word length averages 4.9 characters When I recommend to my clients that they limit their word length to 5 characters per word, they roll their eyes and chortle. But when I tell them I know they can do it, because The New York Times does it every day, they sit up and take note. (The Wall Street Journal also accomplishes this feat, day after day, rarely rubbing … [Read more...] about Big stories, tiny words
Readers multiply reading ease So your copy is too tough for even the most literate among us to read? You can measure and manage readability by using readability indexes like the Flesch-Kincaid grade level. (I like to use StoryToolz readability statistics to calculate this.) That's what I asked you to do for our October writing contest: Find a hard-to-read passage, then … [Read more...] about Measure and manage readability
See the structure at work in this financial piece How do you organize a compelling feature? Model this piece, which Loring Leifer wrote for Northern Funds' marketing magazine, Northern Update. In it, the Wylie Communications head writer and senior writing coach includes all of the elements you need to craft a compelling feature story. Headline Start with a feature … [Read more...] about Anatomy of a feature