How to Build Suspense in Your Content

A lot of content on the internet just seems to be the same old thing, with nothing new, exciting or noteworthy that deserves being paid attention to. One of the best ways to stand out from this is to create suspense. This can be accomplished in a couple of ways.

Journalistic Writing versus Blogging

Journalistic writing is the kind of writing used by newspaper and magazine writers. It centers around the six Ws in order to report the facts:

  •  Who 
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Why
  • hoW

Journalistic writing is also an “inverted pyramid” style of writing, with all of the meaty information in the first paragraph or two, tapering down to less and less important information until the article finally concludes.

With this style of writing, there is very little suspense or a “twist in the tale” at the end of it. About the only place you ever see suspense consciously being used is in the headline. A good headline is designed to lure those skimming a paper into reading the entire article.

Studies have shown that 100% of readers will read a headline, but only 70% will ever read the first paragraph, and 50% the second paragraph. That is a steep falling off of readership you really can’t afford as a professional content creator trying to make money from your site or blog.

Therefore, you need to master more than journalistic writing if your content is ever going to get read.

Marketing as Storytelling

All content online is marketing. And one of the hottest trends in online marketing is storytelling.

Storytelling is as old as time itself, and one of the earliest activities we engage in as a child. “Once upon a time, there was a…” is a common storytelling formula because it works.

The most successful stories have a beginning, middle and end. They don’t even have to be very long. Think of Aesop’s Fables. What the best stories have is a twist in the tale – that is, a surprise ending. Or they might end with a special point that was intended to be made via the story, such as, “the moral of the story.”

Adding Suspense

Every good story has some element of suspense. Even though in most cases, we love a happy ending, it is thrilling to be kept on edge, not knowing if things were going to turn out for the best. Stories like “The Three Little Pigs” or “Little Red Riding Hood” keep you guessing until the end. We move from an unhappy situation to a happy one where everything has been solved.

This formula works well with content too. Think of the problems the people in your niche have, and how they can be solved. What solutions have you discovered along the way? What has really worked for you? What setbacks did you have? Was it a straight progression from A to B, or did you have to take a more winding route around the scary woods to find what you needed? What lessons can you offer your readers as the moral of your story?

This type of content will not only be more vivid and suspenseful, it will also help position you as an expert in your niche worth paying attention to. This can be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow when it comes to your content marketing efforts.


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