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Own the intro: How to make a grand entrance

By: Shah Raju

Posted on 11 March, 2019

Own the intro: How to make a grand entrance

I don’t want you to read this. Seriously, what’s the point? Am I going to give you useful information? Yes. But, I really, really don’t want you to waste your time and read this. Honestly, I don’t want to trouble you.

I’ve never read those words, in that particular order, however that’s what many writers, far too many in fact, communicate to readers with boring, generic, jargon-heavy, clunky, pointless, boring (yes this needs to be highlighted twice), long-winded, mundane intros.

Can I write an effective intro? I don’t know, although if you’re still reading this then for you I can. If you’ve given up on reading this then what more can I do for you?

Writing an effective intro is difficult. And it won’t come to you right away. There are writers with years and years of experience, hundreds of thousands of words deep, libraries stuffed with Hemmingway, Woodward, Hunter S., and more that haven’t a Duncan Goodhew on how to write an intro.

Well that’s about to change - here’s my take on how to write a epic intro, so start me up:

Ask yourself several questions

You don’t have to ask these out loud although I find it helps me to lock myself away and stare at my silhouette in the cracked mirror I keep to remind myself of… Anyway, before sitting down to write your lead, ask yourself question upon question until you can answer each question with much more depth.

“What is the article really about?”

I’m writing about creating better content.

“But what is it really about?”

Oh, I see. The article is about mistakes writers many when creating their ledes. This article is about how writers can craft better ledes that readers will find more engaging. This article is about how to ensure lower bounce rate from the lede.

A good intro is about conflict and the rest of the article is about resolution. Songwriters are great at that so put that best song in the world on full blast.

Readers are lazy

I’ve tried to finish Moby Dick, I sort of have. Ishmael narrates the monomaniacal quest of Ahab, the captain of the Pequod, hunting Moby Dick the whale, seeking revenge for severing Ahab’s leg on a previous voyage when Moby Dick lived up to his surname and for no reason whatsoever, just because he could, destroyed Ahab’s ship. Chapter 32 takes a fifteen-page detour and deep dives into cetelogy. I skimmed that part.

If readers can skim Melville they’ll certainly skim read your work. Most of those pageviews will come from people reading the subheads or bolded phrases to see if the piece gives them something they want. Then they’ll either read it then or maybe they’ll come back to it.

So write subheads that map out your article. Write subheads that act as standalone copy.

Drive yourself to drink

And once more ask yourself questions. Would you want to read this? Be the reader. Writers have many tipples of choice and on a public forum I promote coffee (hopefully I get some free Starbucks out of this). Refill that cup, forget the deadline momentarily, and come back with fresh eyes and read your intro. If upon your revisit you won’t read this then nor will I so rework that intro.

That’s so meta

The meta description is up to 160 characters which summarises a page’s content, essential a tag in the HTML. Search engines show the meta descriptions in search results and if you forget to do this you might as well look for another job. Meta descriptions are there to generate click-throughs from search engines so make sure to optimise these as they’re crucial for on-page SEO.

With that in mind don’t just copy and paste your introduction into the meta description. Write a distinct meta description and be one step ahead of all that competition. Get your SEO expert to provide you with some focus keywords, include a call-to-action, match the content and make it unique.

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