Thursday, May 10, 2007

How to write for the web

Lost Remote's Cory Bergman has written up a great manual on writing for the web. While the document is designed for TV news producers, there are some useful tips for anyone looking to tell better stories on the web, be they news stories or personal narratives.

The basic premise is that it's not good enough to just take your anchor copy and throw it online. The way readers seek their news online is not the same as the way they watch/listen to television news.

Here are a few highlights:
  • Put the most important information at the top -- readers will quickly move on if they don't find the headline and lead sentence to be interesting and/or informative.
  • Once you've pulled a reader in, they probably want more information than you can fit in a 90-second television spot. Give them more details. (To anyone who hasn't written broadcast news, this should be easier than you think. While many criticize broadcasters for leaving details out of their stories, it's usually not because the reporters don't know those details, but rather because they have to trim out as much fat as possible in order to fit more stories into a 30-minute newscast).
  • A good headline can double your traffic.
  • Quotes help bring the story alive -- make sure you get them right.
Good advice for any writer, I should think.

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