Boost the Appeal of Your Article Titles with These 8 Steps

Boost the Appeal of Your Article Titles with These 8 Steps

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Titles are the main advertisement for your articles. If the title doesn’t catch readers attention, it doesn’t matter what follows in your social share or search result. How can you make your titles more appealing?

1. Be Specific

Decide what the article is going to be about. What question will it answer? Using a title with a wide scope isn’t going to work as effectively as one that zooms in on your subject.

For example, let’s say you wrote an article about how to bake four times as many pies as most recipes advise be baked at once. A title promising to show readers how to quadruple their baking output is going to disappoint. Your article only gives the result of your research and experiments with pies. By including pies in the title, your article will rank higher for searches that include pies in the search string and you will get fewer false hits.

When you narrow your focus, you also create opportunities for more articles along the same line. You could write something similar about cakes or casseroles in our example. Getting specific increases the number of future articles you can get lined up.

2. Lead with Focus

Get the main focus of your article as close to the start of the title as you can. “Pie Baking Tips to Quadruple Your Productivity” tells your audience exactly what they’re going to get.

You can also use an article title that reflects the type of action it inspires. Use the reporter’s W5H to define the action: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. For example “How to Quadruple Your Pie Baking Output”.

Who do you expect will want to read your article? Is your title the kind of line that type of person would click on? “Radical Pie Baking Tips to Quadruple Your Productivity” sounds like your aiming for teens. Is that who will be looking for your article?

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How to Use Your Past to Develop Fictional Characters

How to Use Your Past to Develop Fictional Characters

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Unless a novel is completely driven by action, readers expect to see more than one personality type. Can you pull those personalities out of your own personal experience? Yes, you can. I’ve written before about looking within for characterization in Two Character Types We All Have Within Us. That article is about finding the light and dark within yourself. This time, I’m suggesting you reflect on how personality development has changed you as your view of the world has changed.

An introduction to the general idea of personality development might help make the rest clear. We always exist within a world. The world is an other, or an opposition, to ourselves. Because we must constantly deal with the world it has an effect on what we do. What we do is a big part of who we are. What we do changes who we are inside.

For example, if you have a “live and let live” kind of personality and take a job as a software tester, eventually you are going to find faults in everything and everyone, not just in software. You will lose the “live and let live” attitude. Another example. If you’re not a people person and you take a job as a cashier, you are going to be dealing with people 40 hours a week and become more social.

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The Easy Way to Write Short Stories

The Easy Way to Write Short Stories

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Short stories are one of the most difficult kinds of writing. Name as many good short story writers as you can. Now name as many good novelists as you can. Your list of good short story writers was very short compared to your list of good novelists. It’s difficult to write a good story in few words.

Novelists are encouraged to write short stories to promote their books but few can do it well. Even successful novelists will write bad short stories. What can you do to avoid writing bad short stories to promote that fantastic novel you wrote?

Write lots of short stories. Like any kind of writing, the quality improves the more you do it.

Maybe you don’t know where to start. You know you can’t fit all the elements of a novel into a short story. It seems impossible to make it good. You may have already tried writing a few and they’re too bad to share. Even experienced short story writers produce some stories that fail.

Write those bad short stories that you won’t show anyone and keep writing more of them. Ray Bradbury suggested writing a short story a week. In a year you’ll have 52 short stories. They can’t all be bad.

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On Writing Child Characters

On Writing Child Characters

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When all of your characters are adults, you can make their age anything you want and their personality will fit. Because of mid-life crises and life changes like divorce and a new career, older adults often behave a lot like young adults. Serious study and immersive experiences can make young adults act a lot like older adults. Also, adults will differ in maturity based on the amount of risk, responsibility, and knowledge they’ve experienced. Some will find a comfortable position and never change. Others will live with constant change. Change leads to growth. This makes the adult characters you develop easy to re-use in stories under new names and new ages. Children and teens aren’t so simple.

 

Where Do Writers Go Wrong with Child Characters?

There are two main ways you can go wrong with child characters. One is making them simple, quiet, sideline characters who are there but not participating. The other is making them the same as adults.

Children are colorful, noisy, and busy. You can’t have a kid in the room and not know there’s a kid there. If adults are having a conversation and the child isn’t interrupting with talk or action, they must have fallen asleep. With pre-schoolers, maybe so. Once they start school, not so much if ever. If you can’t keep children talkative and animated while they’re around in your story, you’ll need to research more on how they talk and act. That’s coming up.

The other danger is writing children that are the same as adults. Adults have gone through a lot of maturation. First there’s learning in childhood, both emotional and intellectual. Then come the teen years with all of the emotional turmoil and the struggle to choose their adult personality. Stability isn’t part of being a child or teen.

I once read a short story by an author who writes great thriller novels. The short story was about a past adventure his middle-aged protagonist had when he was in his early teens. He had the same personality as in the novels. The character wasn’t believable. A teenager couldn’t possibly have gone through the life experiences that the middle-aged character had to become the crime fighter in the novels. Don’t make the same mistake. Learn about how children act and talk so you can create realistic characters.

 

How Should Child Characters Be Shown?

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How to Use Revenge as Writing Motivation

How to Use Revenge as Writing Motivation

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If you spend any time around other people, especially strangers, you’re going to feel you deserve to take some revenge. Serious hardcore revenge is a dish best served cold for a good reason. Revenge escalates. An argument becomes a fight becomes a murder and other variations of this. Everyone wants revenge for the last act of revenge against themselves.

Get your revenge through writing and turn a natural destructive tendency into a productive act of creativity. Nobody will know you had them beaten to death under another name or that it was your own government that got destroyed in the revolution.

There are other less violent ways to motivate yourself to write as an act of revenge. It’s not all about writing fiction. Non-fiction can also be a vendetta.

Any kind of success can be revenge against those who want to keep you down. There will always be people who would rather knock you down to their level than make the effort to achieve success for themselves. There is a breed of altruism that’s only about destroying successful people, even if it doesn’t help the less fortunate in any way. A strain of this can be found in some religious groups with the idea that those who are suffering are more likely to turn to religion. The more writing you produce and the more success you achieve from it, the more those negative voices will be lost in the crowd.

Take Revenge Against Entertainment

Being a productive writer has a lot to do with not being distracted by entertainment. The internet, movies and TV are all ways we can feel good instantly and sad afterward. Time on social media has been found to make us less happy too.

Time achieving something has been found to make us happier. While we’re working toward a goal, we may struggle or even feel frustrated. Once we’ve finished a project, we get the satisfaction of a job well done. This is why it’s good to celebrate small milestones. Celebrate every article and short story completed. Celebrate every chapter written. The roads to major successes are paved with small milestones.

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Should You Write 2000 Word Blog Posts?

Should You Write 2000 Word Blog Posts?

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I’ve seen the following advice often recently. “You must write 2000 word blog posts if you want to get attention for your blog.” Must you? The logic behind this is that Google’s first page results tend to average around 2000 words per linked article.

If you read up on ideal article lengths you’ll find that’s not Google’s preferred article length. They want an average article length of 2400 words. But let’s not stretch the challenge. If the average on the first page of Google is 2000 words, that’s a big enough target for long articles. Search engine visitors are called organic visitors, but that’s only one way readers arrive at your blog.

Another statistic for the best long articles depends on what readers like. It seems they prefer 1600 words. This is based on which length articles are most likely to be shared on social networks. That source of visitors is called social.

Let’s not forget the people who are going to visit your blog because they like what you have to say. If they keep coming back, they must like the length of your posts as they are. So what’s the scoop on article length? Should you write longer articles or continue as always?

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14 Tips to Improve Characterization

14 Tips to Improve Characterization

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If your characters are just names, how will your readers remember them? Why will they even care about them? Developing their personalities is important and there are many ways to do it. Don’t get me wrong. Minor characters don’t need much detail at all. It’s your main characters that should seem like real people to your readers. How can you improve your characterization? Here are 14 tips to help you develop the important personalities in your stories as they move forward.

 

Introducing Characters

1. To build a character, start with a stereotype and then find ways to break it. People want to be unique individuals. Give your characters hobbies and interests that make them stand out from the crowd. Any character who appears more than once should not fit a stereotype. If you have trouble imagining a character from scratch, search your past. Who have you known that people would have called a character because of how different they were? I can think of at least one in every place I ever worked plus a few friends. Start with the real person and change them for your story.

The most important personality will be your main character. How are they uniquely suited to play the lead role in your story? How odd can you make them and still keep them likeable? Are they one of a kind? If not, you need to keep working on their character description.

2. Some characters will have unusual speech as a trait. Do they have an accent? Is the accent regional or because their first language isn’t English? How fast do they talk? How loud? Do they swear? Do they talk too much or too little? Do they move their hands while they talk? Do they have trouble keeping still? Do they look other people in the eye, avoid eye contact, or stare like an over-attached-girlfriend?

3. A character’s level of awareness will differ depending on the kind of person they are. A good detective will notice many details and be able to work out hidden meanings and the implications of what they see. An addict will tend to be unaware of their surroundings. An artist will see what is beautiful while someone in the trades will notice what is useful.

4. Introducing a character dealing with an emotional issue can cement their personality in the reader’s mind. It may be in their relationship with people, work, or even a phobia. Have the character working on resolving their issue throughout the novel will add to its depth. For sure, a main character’s emotional issues should be resolved.

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How to Blend Description Into Your Novel

How to Blend Description Into Your Novel

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Description can be a tricky story element. If you put in too much, you bore your readers. If you don’t put in enough, it can seem like the story is taking place in an empty building or a desert. Even if the story does take place in an empty building or a desert, you need to write a picture. Is it a new building under construction or a derelict crack pad? Is it a desert of sand or are there scrub plants and lizards?

As long as you give your readers the general feel of a place or person, they can fill in the rest from their imaginations. Unless you have more than one “bald man with a cane” why take the description any further?

 

Description to Avoid

I love long descriptions in novels. They really speed up the story as I skip past them. Who wants to read half a page about what a house, garden, town, or highway looks like? If it relates to your hobby, you may find it fascinating. Most readers don’t care. A greenhouse with flowers and vegetables? Got it. Go no further. Unless something in the greenhouse is being used in the story, such as a poisonous plant that will be playing a role later on, let the reader fill in the details. If they’re an enthusiast, they’ll have many. If not, they won’t read your details anyway.

Another source of excessive descriptions is the assumption that readers are enthusiasts for the non-fiction version of information related to a genre. If you like crime fiction, you’ll love a comparison of six different kinds of silencer. And a science fiction fan must want to know all the details of how rocket boosters get a ship into space. A lot of that gets into genre fiction but it isn’t contributing to the story. It’s a break from the story.

But, what if there is a lot of descriptive material the reader needs to know for later?

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Your Short First Draft is Not a Disaster

Your Short First Draft is Not a Disaster

Your Short First Draft is Not a Disaster

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If you’ve tried to write a book, I know you’ve been here. You created an outline that was about 10,000 words of concise story points and then used it to write a first draft. Or you’re a pantser and you wrote your first draft based on what you believed was a book length story idea. Your first draft didn’t hit 100,000 words. Close but not close.

Don’t panic. Don’t despair. You haven’t failed.

A novel length story will often be short on the first draft if you haven’t written many of books yet. The path you are on is called scaffolding and decoration. If you’re a horror writer, you might call it bones and flesh.

This additive drafting model is a good one starting out. Later, after a few books or a few dozen, you will develop a habit of writing too much on the first draft and leaving nothing out. Then you will need to cut the second draft.

It’s not easy to imagine every detail of a full length book. It’s a lot of story. You don’t know all of your characters’ personalities and looks when you first write them. You don’t have a clear picture of all the locations. You will learn some of this information through the story and some will need to be invented on the second draft.

Adding Details to a Second Draft

What did you miss when you wrote your first draft? I’d take bets you missed the same things I do. Here’s my list.

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Character Change Through Negativity

Character Change Through Negativity

Character Change Through Negativity

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A few years ago, I wrote a series of articles about negative approaches to the world and how to use them to create character change in fiction. This quick review of the six types of negative character change will show you how to make your important characters more complex.

The Two Types of Negative Psychology

The two main kinds of negative psychology are indifference and power.

Detachment, addiction, and greed are all ways to say “No thanks, reality. I’ll just live in my own imaginary little world where you don’t matter.” The indifferent feel that reality isn’t worth their attention. The addicted focus on their addiction(s). The greedy are interested only in money.

Anger, cruelty, and betrayal are all ways to exert power over reality. “The world isn’t what I want it to be so I will force it to my will.” All of these forms of attack damage the healthy happy social world that most of us would like to be living in.

An antagonistic character may go through a character change without making real progress. The move from escapist to activist makes them more of a danger to the world. Conversely, if you change them from attacking the world to merely avoiding it, they may become a better person socially. They will still be in a bad way, but not so dangerous to others.

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