|The Virgin Mary Reading by Antonello da Messina (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons).
What's the difference between a post that never gets read and one that gets shared multiple times on social media? Often it's how the post begins.
Master novelists know how to hook their readers in from the first sentence. They start with humor, mystery, excitement, or an intriguing idea. Consider these story openers:
"It was the best of times. It was the worst of times..." (A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens)
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a large fortune must be in want of a wife." (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)
"In the last days of Narnia..." The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis)
Don't they make you want to read more?
Of course, a blog post isn't a novel. But since it's much shorter (like people's attention spans), it's even more important for bloggers to come to the point quickly. This is challenging in the blogosphere. Blogs got their start as online journals, and many bloggers like to share their daily lives with their readers. The temptation to ramble never goes away. Sometimes I want to share tidbits of my life with my audience that don't directly relate to my subject matter. I've decided the best place for those is FaceBook, rather than as slow introductions to my posts. Besides, that gives readers an added reason to "Friend" me.
Why do people read your blog? If you're a member of CSBN, chances are they want to grow in their faith. Let them know right away how your post will help them. You can do this in your title or in your first line. Or you can pose a question that used to plague you. It's probably plagued your readers too. If you're writing about a virtue or spiritual practice, tell a brief story of a saint who exemplified it.
Here are some first liners you can steal from me for future posts:
- I realized today I know nothing about following God. Nothing.
- Have you ever wondered why...?
- Francis de Sales has always been one of my favorite saints.
- The biggest surprise in my spiritual life happened when...
- I just read a book that changed my life.
- If I could live life over, I would be humble from the start.
- Have you prayed the Rosary lately?
Besides keeping your readers on the page, great beginnings can bring new readers to your blog. Search engines analyze your title and first paragraph to determine what your post is about. If you want someone to be able to find your blog through key word searches, make your first paragraph meaningful.
Challenge: Create some great first lines that your fellow Catholic bloggers could really use. Share them in the comments box. Then try to use one or more in the next month.
Connie Rossini blogs at Contemplative Homeschool.