Even a dry blog topic can be made interesting.

Did your blog post put several readers to sleep today?

Too bad. Even your blog post on how to create a Twitter account could be so awesome that it instills excitement. Using a centuries old technique — if Shakespeare could have blogged, would he? — you can not only keep your reader awake, but you can keep them addicted to your blog.

 

The Fiction Pyramid And You

Off the record, we’re going to call it plain old curiosity. Officially, though, it’s called the Freytag Pyramid or, as you might have learned in school, the fiction pyramid or the dramatic arc. These are all fancy phrases for telling us about what makes a good story. Take note: People love stories. They are a curious bunch, and stories feed curiosity.

The fiction pyramid

The fiction pyramid works for blogs, too.

The pyramid looks something like this:

Introduction (and inciting incident): The headline, the setup, the introduction of characters and setting. For a blog post, you’re introducing the topic and necessary background information to your reader. You’re laying out your case. At the end of the introduction, the conflict (inciting incident) is revealed. The reader is made aware of a problem, which should make them curious about it if you’ve made them care or be concerned enough in your introduction.

Rising Action: This is where you build your case. The reader has the background info, and knows of the problem. Here is where you begin fleshing that out and building in detail. Use facts, charts, quotes, links — but whatever you use, be sure that it doesn’t numb and disinterest the reader. You want to keep them reading.

Climax: This is the pinnacle of your argument, your idea, your theory. Or, in the case of a simple how-to post, the nudge to reassure them that your steps should be followed or that yes, they should be doing this because the alternative isn’t good, or that they don’t want to make a common mistake others have made who haven’t used your step-by-step expertise. However you handle it, this is the point where you convince them that the case you laid out for them was true, and that it applied to them. The problem you stated was their problem, too.

Falling Action: Now that you have your reader’s attention or concern (and hopefully trust, since they’re still with you this far), you close out your argument and start to suggest to them that there’s a way to solve the problem, and you’ll share it with them.

Resolution (and call to action): Present your solution, your conclusion, and your final thoughts. If you want your reader to do something specific, this is a good time to ask them. A well-written blog post that has presented a problem or concept that convinces readers it applies to them will leave them wanting to take action immediately so they can feel that they’ve taken part and concluded the issue for themselves. Get your email addresses, sell your ebook, offer your download. Give them something to do, and be clear you’d like them to do it because it’s part of the solution.

This pyramid works. It’s worked to hook readers for centuries. It works even when you switch a few elements around (start with a bold climactic statement, for example, and then follow with the introduction).

It works because that’s what readers want. They want to be eased into what’s going to happen, they want to have a reason to keep reading, they want to feel tension because it creates a feeling of possibility and curiosity and excitement, and then they want it brought back down with the problem resolved and a sense of things being finished and their curiosity sated. It works.

Your blog posts should make use of this pyramid.

What Does That Pyramid Have To Do With My Blog?

Just because you’re not writing a novel doesn’t mean this technique isn’t for you. As brief as possible, the work of your blog post writing is as follows:

  1. Headline gets initial reader attention.
  2. Reader then reads the first line.
  3. The first line causes the reader to want to read the second line.
  4. This continues.
  5. At any point where the writing dwindles and a line doesn’t lead on to a line, the reader leaves. They lost curiosity.
  6. If each line leads to the next, the reader keeps with you to the end.

The beauty of the fiction pyramid, if done well, is that it leads the reader willingly to the end. They are willing to do the work of climbing to the key point you want to make and then stay with you to the end. They are willing to give you an email, or buy the book. You convinced them through the story, and they’ll take part in more. They gave you permission to do so.

Make Twitter As Exciting As A Mystery Novel

Let’s try an example, and use that post you’re going to write, the one on setting up a Twitter account. You could say:

“Getting a Twitter account is a good idea. The first thing you want to do is sign up. Choose a username and password, and login. Then, you’ll want to upload an icon…”

That’s useful. It’s true. And you’ll still get readers who might hop in, read it, and bounce right back out after getting the information they needed. However, wouldn’t you rather pique their interest enough that they might subscribe to your email or RSS feed? Each post you write has velcro potential. What if you wrote it like this instead:

“The first thing you’ll need if you want to use Twitter is to learn to say less. No, really. Twitter gives you 140 characters and that’s it. Confident you can pull it off? Then these next five steps will make you a Twitter maestro. Let’s get started.”

One has sequential facts. The other feeds curiosity, revealing information in a drip feed.

No Way Am I Using A 5-Part Structure For A Blog Post

Let’s say the five parts aren’t appealing to you. It sounds complicated. Break the pyramid down, and what do you have?

  1. Here’s my idea.
  2. Here’s my data.
  3. Here are solutions.

The key is building curiosity to keep the reader interested, making them willing to hear your call-to-action and giving you permission to ask them to do something. The pyramid helps do that. If you don’t want to use a 5-part formula, that’s fine. Just remember that each line must lead to the other, and that people expect to be introduced, convinced, and given something to do.

The beauty of it is that after a period of consistently addictive blog posts, your blog itself becomes addictive. People are curious to know what you’ll be saying today. If your readers are coming to read, but dropping off like flies before the end, reconsider your story technique. It’s not hip to be square. Be a pyramid instead.

How do you structure your blog posts?