Content is everywhere. But not all content is created equal. Some articles feel like a marathon, leaving readers exhausted by the end, while others are a delightful sprint, leaving readers energized and craving more. What’s the secret sauce that transforms a piece of writing from a tedious read to a delightful experience?
I faced that challenge today, working on a book that we’ll publish next week. The book is about CBD. It requires a certain level of explanation to keep it clean and compliant. How can I take what is a fairly controversial topic requiring rather detailed writing and make it a pleasure to read?
The reader experience is so easy to ignore. Consumable content isNOT easy to write. We live in a mouse click world. You either capture the reader’s attention immediately or you are a mouse click from oblivion.
There are three structural things that make the challenge easier. The three magic ingredients: pacing your sentences, optimizing reading level, and the strategic use of white space.
1. Pacing Your Sentences: The Rhythm of Words
Think of your content like a musical score. Just as a song has a rhythm, so does your writing. Think of yourself as the conductor controlling the rhythm. Pacing is your baton.
- Short Sentences: These are the quick beats, the staccato notes. They grab attention. Make a point.
- Long Sentences: These flow like a melodic line, giving depth and detail, allowing the reader to immerse themselves in the narrative.
By mixing short and long sentences, you create a dynamic tempo that keeps readers engaged, ensuring they’re neither overwhelmed nor underwhelmed.
ProWritingAid renders a great visual representation of the pacing of your writing.
2. Reading Level: Striking the Perfect Balance
While it’s tempting to showcase your extensive vocabulary, remember: the goal is clarity, not complexity.
- Know Your Audience: If you’re writing for industry experts, some jargon is acceptable. But for a general audience? Keep it simple and jargon-free.
- The Power of Plain English: Big words don’t equal big impact. Often, straightforward language can convey ideas more powerfully than complex terminology.
Tools like the Flesch-Kincaid readability test can help gauge the accessibility of your content. Aim for a balance that challenges yet doesn’t alienate your readers.
3. White Space: The Breather in Between
Ever opened an article and been greeted by a daunting wall of text? It’s off-putting, to say the least. Enter: white space.
- Bullets and lists: Like this one, they break down information into digestible chunks.
- Headers: They segment your content, guiding readers through the narrative.
- Shorter Paragraphs: Instead of long blocks of text, use two to three-sentence paragraphs. They’re easier on the eyes and make skimming a breeze.
White space isn’t “wasted” space. It’s a visual breather, giving readers a moment to absorb information before moving on.
I own an Encyclopedia Britannica from 1917. Open to almost any section and you’ll find a page filled with text. In 1917 you could write a paragraph of text a page long. Not today!
White space checkers don’t exist. You must look at your text to determine if it is going to be easy on the eyes.
Every day I see content that writers are ready to publish. My first question is always, “Do you want people to read this?” Make it easy to read!
Creating consumable content isn’t about dumbing things down. It’s about presenting information in a way that’s accessible, engaging, and a pleasure to read. By mastering the art of pacing, optimizing reading levels, and utilizing white space, you’re not just writing—you’re crafting an experience. Before you publish, remember these three ingredients. Your readers will thank you!
Note: Please don’t be deceived by AI it won’t satisfy any of these three keys to creating content that people read. There are a lot of products making false promises about AI. Publishing giants like KDP are starting to crackdown.