If asked how many kinds of writing there are, most of us would create a long list, including fiction, nonfiction, educational, sales, marketing, email, self-help, blog writing, and on and on and on.
Although you could make a case that each of these talks to a different audience and has different conventions, all of them have the same inherent weakness or strength. Every single one of them!
They are either boring or interesting.
How many of you have read a novel you could not put down? That is because the author made it interesting. Remember that novel you tossed after reading the first two pages? That author was boring. Same type of writing, different results.
Novels are pure stories. The same techniques that create powerful emotional involvement in a novel will create the same emotional involvement (and impulse to buy) in nonfiction. Jeff Walker (internet marketer, Product Launch guru) says that a good sales message is simply a story and uses all the techniques I give you below (and more).
Your job as a writer, marketer, salesperson, blogger, teacher, and professional, is to make your products and services interesting to your customers. The words you choose and the order in which you write them will either convince the reader to buy from you or turn away. And once the reader turns away, he or she is gone forever.
How do you make your writing interesting? Here are five tips for using fictional or story techniques in nonfiction:
1. Create a memorable headline or first line. This line grabs the attention of your reader in such a way that they must continue reading. You can do this with a controversial statement, an unusual fact, a question, or even a single provocative word. I learned this very early on writing newspaper headlines.
2. Put yourself into your writing. If you are absent, your writing will bore your readers. Remember, you bring experiences, biases, and insights into your subject that nobody else has. Insert your opinions, side comments, your unique style of thinking and talking, and people will eat up your prose.
3. Use vivid imagery. Your reader will relate to your material more if he or she can visualize it and relate it to their own experience. If you use a phrase that jogs a powerful memory or sense in your reader, they will stick with you longer.
4. Use dialogue even in nonfiction. Dialogue puts the reader into a scene where they can experience the events as they occur. It creates suspense, grounding, a sense of truth, and can guide the reader away from consciously thinking about whether or not to buy your product and into an emotional experience where buying what you sell is perfectly natural.
5. Use a strong call to action. If you write 500 pages and then neglect to tell your reader what to do with what they just learned, you have wasted your time. Every piece you write needs a call to action of some kind to tell the reader what to do with your material.
There are many other ways to make your writing interesting. However, if you apply these five, you will find yourself writing far better than most people. To get started, study writers you admire and marketers whose copy works. Look at each section and ask yourself how that writer did the things I outlined above. Then write.
Lee Pound (http://www.leepound.com) edits and publishes books for professionals and entrepreneurs who want to establish themselves as experts in their markets. He is also co-producer of two seminars, Speak Your Way to Wealth and Market Your Way to Wealth. He is author of 57 Steps to Better Writing, editor of Coaching For the New Century and editor of Adapt! How to Survive and Thrive in the Changing World of Work.