There are four different ways to begin a novel, explains author Cheri Laser, with a less commonly used choice of the four, yet a favorite of hers, being “In Medias Res”, meaning “into the middle of things”.
An in medias res novel, Laser adds, introduces the characters and the conflicts at the mid-point or at the conclusion, then flashes back to catch up. The concept? Intrigue the reader, then jump back to an earlier, quieter part of the story to deliver the information readers need to understand the conflict.
Business blog content writers know the importance of intriguing and engaging readers, and of doing it right away. At Say It For You, I emphasize how big a deal it can be to get the “pow opening line” right. In SEO-conscious marketing blogs, of course, it may be the keyword phrases in the title that start the job of getting the blog found. But once a visitor has actually landed, it takes a great opener to fan that flicker of interest into a flame.
For today’s online searchers, that flicker-to-flame process is condensed, to say the least. “Every day, you fight a battle, competing with the internet, emails, texting and voicemail. “ Kimberly Yuhl of SteamFeed quotes a quite startling word quota from Statistic Brain: The average attention span in 2013 was 8 seconds. If the average adult listens to or reads one word per second, that gives us eight words to capture our readers’ attention. “They had better be some powerful words,” advises Yuhl.
Darren Rowse of Problogger suggests starting with a question as one way to engage readers: Did you know….? How do you….? What’s one of the most common problems that…..? Do you want to learn how to…? Have you ever…? Do you ever wonder if…?
Another form of in medias res beginnings for business blogs is what Hector Cuevas calls the “shock and awe approach”, which involves starting posts by ”disagreeing with what is commonly accepted as the norm”. This, Cuevas suggests, “builds an instant sense of curiosity and brings up questions that your readers need answered.” The caution, he adds, is that your content needs to clearly explain your point of view.
For your next business blog post, consider starting in media res!