.Respect readers’ time. That’s a golden rule of writing.
And one way we’re breaking that rule is by writing introductions that are unnecessarily long.
Remember pyramid style writing? The one where you provide all the important information first? That method where you tell people: who, what, when, where and why right away. Then, you let the readers decide if they want or need more information.
And maybe you also remember that it was really popular for a long time. Then, blogs arrived and more and more people started saying, hey we need to shift to a conversational style.
Well, conversational writing has gone too far.
I agree that writing was too formal for too long, and often still is. But this trend we have now is drawing things out and adds a lot of rambling that we don’t need.
What Writing Has Become
Take an article titled “5 Ways To Save Money On Groceries.” Something like this will commonly start with one to three paragraphs of filler, like an anecdote, statistic, quote or some combination of those things.
For example, the article may begin talking about the number of people who spend more than they intend when they visit the grocery store. Or, it may site some report about how much people spend on each grocery store visit.
These attempts to “engage” the reader are really just bullshit that’s in the way.
With a topic and title like that, people know what they’re set to read before they click. And the reason they do click is that they want money-saving tips, not a long introduction.
So, why don’t we just jump straight to way #1?
Why We’re Writing Long Introductions
Writers don’t get straight to the point because we’re writing with a lot of objectives that don’t have anything to do with the message.
Long introductions are usually self-serving. They’re not really for the reader.
We’re use introductions to please the Google-God and implement SEO strategies. We’re trying to stretch the material to reach a word count and anchor people to our sites longer.
Writing introductions is a way for us get our rocks off talking about what we’ve done, where we’ve been or to showcase the sources we can quote. It allows us to connect with readers, to show personality– to show we’re witty, snarky or hip.
At least that’s what we think.
Not only are a lot of introductions a waste of the readers’ time, but they’re a waste of the writers’ time because people don’t read them.
If you have experience creating content for the web you know people skim and scan. A lot of us format our writing especially to help people do it.
I’m a skimmer and scanner because I have a lot of content to get through. I don’t have time for filler most days. And when I do have time, I’d like to do something better with it.
Bullshit is like pie. There’s only so much you can eat before you’re sick. There’s no exception just because that bullshit is in writing.
How to Write Better Intros
This is not simply me pointing fingers. I’ve written unnecessarily long introductions. And I’m sure sometimes I still do.
But I’m prepared to practice what I preach because I’m tired of reading unnecessary introductions and I’m tired of writing them.
I vote “yes” to trimming intros down and cutting them out.
If you don’t need an introduction, don’t add one. If you need an intro and a brief one works, keep it short.
And if you want to pump readers with random facts, stats and quotes that don’t work in the body of your content, put those extras the end. Or better yet, why not take that information and create another post?