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  • (c) Marina Catherine

Writing good copy is like a schoolyard brawl.

Your first punch should be your best punch.

Hit your reader hard, then follow up with a flurry of short, sharp jabs. Your first few lines must draw the reader into the fray. And, much like a schoolyard brawl, if your content is written well, you'll draw a crowd of onlookers

Seven ways to win the first round

1. Go in hard and quick. Make your first sentence sharp and to the point. No matter whether you are writing the next bestselling novel or a report on pedestrian crossings, your first line is the hook that invites the reader to continue reading. The first line of this blog is only four words long but gets the point across.

2. Keep up the fancy footwork. Don't dance around the subject matter in your first lines. You want your reader's attention focused only on your copy, despite the many other distractions demanding their attention. Make sure your opening paragraph shows you can deliver the goods before your reader walks away.

3. What if you don't know how to do this? One way is to ask a question you know your reader wants answered. Find an angle and turn it into a question. It intrigues the reader and sets you up as the expert who can provide the answer.

4. 90 % of articles that start with a shocking statistic are read. Do some research or convert some of your data into interesting statistics. Make sure it's something your reader is likely to be curious about.

5. A good fighter feints with his right then punches with his left. Use the element of surprise. Misdirection can put a reader sufficiently off guard that they want to keep reading. For example, a headline for a blog on satellite navigation: If you want to know how to read a map, you've arrived at the the wrong place.

6. Use an analogy. Liken your topic to something that is generally not associated with it. Writing is not usually related to school yard brawls, but if you're reading this point, my analogy has worked.

7. Provoke a fight. Use a fact, provocative statement, statistic or question in such a way that your reader's point of view is challenged and then go on to pacify them with your expert knowledge. Here are some examples:

Statement: Why cats are better than dogs

Statistic: Why 85% of rum drinkers start fights

Question: Don't know how to keep your man happy?

Fact: Turtles do have feelings

If you're still struggling, don't stress. Start in the middle or with the conclusion and work backwards. Just get those words down and give the idea for the opening line time to germinate. By the time you've finished your first draft, you will probably have some idea of how to craft that most important first punch.

Marina Catherine
Editing and copywriting

Phone: 0414 746 696
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