A quick quiz.
Below are some famous opening lines from literature, but can you name the books they come from? (Answers at the bottom of the page.)
- “Call me Ishmael.”
- “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
- “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
We’ve previously spoken about the need to spend time on your headlines to draw readers in, and the best types of headlines to grab attention, but how do you keep your readers once you’ve grabbed them?
The importance of a strong beginning
These opening lines are well known for a reason. They all entice the reader in, but they use different techniques to do so.
In the first, you are spoken to directly. In just three words you’ve made a friend, been let into a confidence, and become embroiled in the story.
The second opening subverts expectations. A nondescript, almost clichéd description of the weather lowers your guard. The second half of the sentence pulls the rug from under your feet, leaving you wanting more.
Finally, the third opening is thought-provoking and intriguing. Without posing direct questions, it asks you to dwell on your own family life. It doesn’t promise answers, but it does hint at shared experience.
These lessons can be taken into the blogs you write
Think about what you want your readers to feel.
Are you drawing them into a confidence, offering advice or relating news that has a bearing on them? – “You can be sure that your finances are in safe hands with our team of committed and professional advisers. We even have an award to prove it!”
Maybe you want to start from a place of comfort, only to flip the reader’s expectations – “Rainy day funds give peace of mind that your loved ones will be protected no matter what the future brings, and yet over half of UK adults don’t have one.”
Or you might be using a topical news piece to get your readers thinking about how the story relates to them – “The financial cost of scams is well understood, but there are devastating emotional effects to consider too.”
Match the opening of your blog to the type of story you want to write, and you’ll hook your reader.
Strong closing lines are equally important
Quiz time again!
While they might be less instantly recognisable, here are some closing lines from literature. (Answers at the bottom of the page, but be warned, these are tougher.)
- “Are there any questions?”
- “‘Rest assured, our father, rest assured. The land is not to be sold.’ But over the old man’s head they looked at each other and smiled.”
- “Yukiko’s diarrhoea persisted through the twenty-sixth, and was a problem on the train to Tokyo.”
On the face of it, extracting meaning from these closing lines might be harder! And yet, there is something they all have in common.
They suggest that the story isn’t finished.
Be sure to conclude with a call to action
Number 4 is a clear call to action, directly engaging the reader. Number 5, meanwhile, is disconcerting, leaving you wanting more – whether to know what happens next or possibly even to intervene.
Number 6 tells those familiar with Yukiko’s previous actions everything they need to know. And yet, its direct tone – even abruptness – brings the reader up short. You might even find yourself wanting to know what the trip to Tokyo will bring?
Tell the story you want to tell in your blog and then be sure to allow the dialogue to continue. You want your writing to resonate long after your client or prospect has finished reading. A direct call to action can help with this.
Ask a reader to find their lost pensions or to call you about their life insurance. Speak to your reader directly, using strong verbs to point to a specific task, and be absolutely clear about what it is you want your readers to take away.
And now for the answers…
Writing engaging beginnings and endings for your blogs isn’t easy. At The Yardstick Agency, we have the knowledge, skills, and time to craft blog content aimed at your target audience.
Through strong openings and clear calls to action, we can entertain and educate your readers while boosting leads.
Contact us at email@example.com or call 0115 8965 300 to see how we can help you.
[Answers: 1. Moby Dick by Herman Melville 2. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell 3. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy 4. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood 5. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck 6. The Makioka Sisters by Junichirō Tanizaki]