To go viral is the ultimate desire of an online writer. The reality is however different. It comes true for a few only.
We see taglines like “One million copies sold” on the cover of books and desire to achieve the same.
Experts prescribe on-page and off-page SEO tips. But sometimes these tips work and sometimes they fail.
Recently I got fed up with learning, trying and experimenting with such tips and thought of doing something new. I thought I’d attempt at producing quality material. Because quality is the ultimate penacea when nothing works.
Great Authors as Mentors
As I took this turn I tested a fair amount of success. I’m not saying I parted with SEO tips, but sure, I tried to improve my writing on the basis of quality. And positive comments from the audience proved confidence boosters.
Now, I want to dive deeper into my experiment and devise something new. The new idea consists in stealing (Forgive me great authors!) deep tips of writing from the great authors and treating them as tips from mentors.
Great authors are not called wizards for nothing. They were schools of thought. They were maestros of their craft. They knew how to move hearts and how to make tears trickle. They had the art and the craft to cause readers to buzz over their writings like flies.
It implies they knew what appeals to the masses and what it takes to pull readers. Hence, if going viral is your writing goal (and it should be!) who’ll be better to learn from than the great authors ?
Let’s cherry-pick the components of quality-writing from their writing styles. These will in fact be the ultimate SEO tips.
1. Earnest Hemingway
Hemingway’s writing style is very simple and forthright but the matter contained in it is the real nuclear element. It conveys its intent plainly and directly. Nonetheless, the theme underneath is not so simple. It has its own, mammoth under current.
The language is without any convolutions, as straightforward as will be easily understandable by a school goer. But the milieu, the expressions and the acts of the characters are all contributing towards the build-up of the tale.
The famous iceberg theory of writing is Hemingway’s gift to the writing world. It means intentionally leaving out parts of the story to make it more intriguing and implying.
While reading an uncomplicated sentence in his tale you’re only viewing the tip of the iceberg. The major narrative waits hidden like the iceberg inside water to overwhelm you with surprise in the end.
Let’s enjoy this one from Hemingway:
You did not kill the fish only to keep alive and to sell for food, he thought. You killed him for pride and because you are a fisherman. You loved him when he was alive and you loved him after. If you love him, it is not a sin to kill him. Or is it more?
Keep it Simple
This is naturally the best style for composing a blog post. It has been proved beyond doubt that the blogs which express their desired message in the simplest way to even the commonest surfer on the net have a tendency to spontaneously gravitate towards popularity.
And it’s obvious too that more (and a lot more, for that matter) commoners throng the internet in comparison to the intellectuals. So writing plain and direct blog posts is self-explanatory.
Keep the Iceberg Hidden
However, the important lesson here is the impact that the ordinary looking sentences in your composition are going to create. Learning from Hemingway, conceive your blog post to construct the theme step by step. Let its climax take form slowly but strongly.
Hide your main intent from the reader, drift her slowly towards it and reveal the whole iceberg in the climax.
2. Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens is considered a master of depiction. He created scenes. He made his characters speak local lingo so they’d look real.
Dickens held public get togethers to read his novels on an open stage. He has been quoted as doing this very emotionally and to such an extent that his audience laughed loudly and cried on occasions.
I never forget a character named Fagin in his novel ‘Oliver Twist’. Fagin, the gangster, was a common, crooked, cunning and wickedest imaginable person. He always uses dialect to abuse his boys in the gang.
To me Fagin is the ultimate characterization of a man gone astray and a personification of the evil. I wonder how a writer can think of such real characters for a story.
And this, I mean, the the truth, and your involvement with your audience is the real takeaway from Dickens.
Though the internet is brimming with writers why only a handful of posts go viral. The answer is as simple as “You don’t connect to your audience.”
Imagine yourself as an orator. If you go on a speaking spree and the people in your audience are not listening, rather speaking to one another, what will happen? They are likely to leave very soon.
Give Facts and Figures
Better imagine yourself as surrounded on all sides by your audience. You’re sitting in the middle. You understand the feelings of the people. You say something that immediately moves hearts. Your audience bursts into laughter, whistles and at times, tears.
Fact is, when you tell them real things they feel your sentiments and grievances are same as theirs. Give them facts and figures to make them believe you. Let them say, “My Gosh! Is it possible? But yeah, the survey says this….”
The reality in your writing style and bonding with your audience are the elements which will give you the power to write your next viral blog post.
3. Harper Lee
‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ is the masterpiece of Harper Lee. Here, Scout, a 6 year old innocent girl narrates her own account of life in Maycomb and looks back when she’s an adult, at the life their family lived.
The writing style of Lee consists in narrating to the reader serially, the events contributing to the story one by one. She doesn’t form an opinion on them. But through the dialogues delivered by her characters Atticus, Jem, Scout and others she creates an argument.
She leaves it to the audience to justify its truthfulness or otherwise and give a comment on it.
The action and speech of the characters compel the reader to make her own understanding of the situation that would have prevailed .
Besides, she lays thinking traps through the arguments among her characters. Atticus, the father of two children, Scout and Jems, says at one point,
“ You never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.”
Having read this, won’t you think and tend to opine ?
Get Still Closer to Your Audience
You move a step further with Lee from the point you had reached with Dickens. With Dickens you learnt to involve with your audience by way of connecting with them, telling them hilarious and tragic tales of heart.
Here with Lee, you make your audience think and opine. You let your sentences do the talking, just like Lee’s characters.
Don’t say anything about your final objective. Audience keeps thinking and guessing, “Where is the writer taking us?” The boat drifts at the mercy of the waves. The waves know their path. The travellers don’t.
Weave Your Tale Frame by Frame
In line with Lee, weave your story frame-wise, putting each frame to contribute towards the end game. Here, the reader weighs your arguments and holds it right or wrong in her own perspective.
The moral here is asking your viewers to form opinions and comment on what you’re stating.
4. Paulo Coelho
Paulo Coelho is a Brazilian born writer who resides permanently in Switzerland now. And if you want to know about him through a one-liner, here it is:
To me he’s a revolutionist writer who enjoys breaking traditions and beliefs and not afraid to write 180 degrees opposite to what’s normally believed and accepted.
His writing style is highly inspirational and resembles the oration of a preacher. But allegorically he keeps things hidden and makes you think of the actual theme he’s laying.
He produces analogies and in turn, inbound waves in your mind. He teaches by example. Tells you stories but the main intent is taking you on the voyage of life.
He writes simple but solid and sows the seeds of hope in the reader’s mind. The reader gains something unusual that was in her already but was not readily visible.
Having read him you seem to yell, “ I’ve it in me and see!!….I was not knowing….what a fool I’ve been.” This is his power.
Harita, (Name changed for privacy sake), my colleague, said, “ Last Wednesday I didn’t feel like going to office. The monotony of 9 to 5 was cluttering in my mind when I got up in the morning. I took ‘The Alchemist’ and receded into my blanket.”
“Believe me, I remember, I was about to finish the book but left some pages to read after coming from the office. I don’t know what happened but I stood up on the bed, started dancing. Then jumped down, reached the mirror straight and danced for 5 more minutes.”
“I got ready and hurried for the office. In the office-cab I laughed loudly without others knowing why.”
“It took me the whole day to come out of the Coelho-effect. But honestly, I don’t want to come out of it.”
So that was Coelho for you. Can you write like that? Can you make your readers dance on the bed?
The following are the major takeaways:
Inspiration and Hope
One thing I’ve noted in my blogging life so far is readers come to your blog mainly to find a solution. Or think it the other way round. Why do you search something with Google? Why a headline strikes your attention but others don’t?
The reason is quite simple. Because you hope to get an answer. This may not always be so but mostly it is.
The moral is: Give real solutions to your readers. Give’em hope. Give’em the ways to arrive at what they need. Find something for them and even ask them whether they’re done or need more towards achieving their desired result.
More Heart and Less Mind
This may seem a somewhat contrarian advice. It appears that reason must prevail over emotion while composing a blog post. The reality is that in many cases this is a truth.
However, for posts which you’re writing for a “Call-to action” or for inspiring your readers you should go Coelho’s style.
The principle of using more heart and less mind means writing with emotion and writing positive. Some things appear correct obviously whereas the reason may indicate otherwise. Go with your gut instinct at these points.
This is a very important lesson to be learnt from the great writer. Like him, don’t be afraid to write diagonally opposite to what is believed in general. Break the myths, break the norm that you can’t swallow down and have the boldness to pen the most uncommon theme.
Think before you write a sentence, “ Does this sentence contribute towards changing the life of people who live and work in my vicinity? Having read this, is the world likely to move a step ahead?”
And then you’ll write the best sentence required at the spot you’re trying to fit your words.
5. Percy Bysshe Shelley
I think it unnecessary to introduce Shelley here as everyone of us has read his poems during schooling or graduation or higher studies. However, as a formality, he was one of the most popular romantic poets of his era.
The greatness of his writing can be understood from the fact that eminent personalities like M.K.Gandhi, Karl Marx, Bernard Shaw, Russell, and Sinclair drew inspiration from him and referred his writing at times.
The reason why I chose Shelley as one of my writers is because I’ve not mentioned till now the most important element of blog post writing ‘The Imagination’ or the art of thinking far and wide. Only, a romantic poet of Shelley’s stature can be cited.
Enjoy a stanza from his poem ‘The Cloud’
From my wings are shaken the dews that wakenThe sweet buds every one,When rocked to rest on their mother’s breast,As she dances about the sun.
He has written on romance, political freedom, social justice, vegetarianism and non-violence with great passion. To me, he’s limitless. See how to describe a cloud in Shelley’s style:
Imagination Far and Wide, Creativity
The tip from this great writer consists of
Break boundaries and think out of the box to produce something original, hitherto untold. This is one quality which brings in readers hankering for unique material on a web full of imitating writers.
Writing With Deep Passion
As a writer, one must have the ambition to excel. This requires a deep seated intention to put in everything you’ve into your writing – your knowledge, your intention, your inclination, your imagination, your gut feeling – and whatever else you can think of.
In order to mesmerize your reader ‘beauty’ must ooze out of your post. Whereas the deep skills grip the reader’s attention firm, the ‘beauty’ element acts to entice the readers at first sight. The headline, the introduction, the quotes, all help towards making your post beautiful.
Have the heart of a poet. Fly up and above the clouds and also in the vales. Tell your readers impossible, yet achievable, things.
Did You Gain Anything?
As a writer I’m always in search of ideas which could help my readers to do away with their blogging difficulties. Here, my intention was to venture into a new land (where the speed-writers, like bloggers, rarely visit) and make a move towards quality. Because only quality can survive in crisis.
The best way to use this article may be as follows:
- Bookmark it and have a glimpse when you feel directionless.
- Concentrate on the style of one of the writers mentioned in the post and pen a post in his/ her style.
- Find out those elements in the writing style of the mentioned authors which have been untouched by you until now. Make a try to write a paragraph or two in that style.
- Read more authors and observe newer things. Pick more aspects from their writing styles. In a way, you’ll be expanding this post. The result will be a wonderful, self created inventory for you to resort to, in troublesome moments of something like a writer’s block.
I’ll love to hear from you now. You’re most welcome to submit your comments and suggestions