Opinion

How to write a great article

Advice for composing a smash hit
By
BizAge Interview Team
By
A typewriter and pad of paper

There are many ways to write an article. If you are confident, then go ahead and do what you want.

But these tips will ensure you deliver a top notch piece.

Hook'em and Hold'em introduction

Begin with a bang! The tabloid newspapers call this Hook'em and Hold'em. The opening lines must seize the attention of very busy people. The rest of the article then keeps them riveted.

Here are some great opening lines:

“The first time I met Tommy Robinson I told him to fuck off.”

“Anne Hathaway detonates a megaton blast of pure unfunniness in this terrifying film. She leaves behind a mushroom cloud of anti-humour, reducing every laugh possibility to grey-white ash in a postapocalyptic landscape of horror and despair.”

“I spent most of my childhood on Tatooine and Endor, with a brief spell on Hoth and some educational times on Dagobah. If this sounds like gibberish to you, then you clearly aren’t a Star Wars fan.”

The number one shortcoming of articles we receive is a slow introduction. Writers are nervous, and want to build up steam before making their first point. This normally takes the form of reciting platitudes: “In today's global economy, business leaders are being asked to do more with less...”. Delete the padding. Hit us with something sensational in the first line.

Be chatty

The tone of Business Age is informal. Chatty. As if you were addressing the reader face to face. You can make jokes. Address the reader directly, saying “you”. Indulge your own unique style.

Be wary of slipping into Press Release mode. This is a danger for PRs who are fearful of being seen as frivolous (business is boring, right?). Words such as 'solution', 'key, 'alignment', 'value drivers', and 'facilitating' are signs the Press Release mode has been activated. No human uses these words.

Make an effort to be creative

Writing is a way to flaunt your creative energies. Search for fresh metaphors. Dazzle us with ingenious analogies.

Examples:

“As alien as the alien from Alien”

- Giles Smith

“This car devalues faster than a grandfather clock pushed out the back of a Hercules.”

- Jeremy Clarkson

“It also turns out that husbands do not read Grazia, and no matter how magnificent or loving they may be, they can’t help themselves from sporadically saying ‘£225! For a purse! JESUS CHRIST’, as if you’ve just stabbed them quite violently in the balls with a fork, left the fork there, and then hung your coat on it, while you go and have a bath.”

- Caitlin Moran

Business Age invites you, urges you, pleads with you, to be as inventive as possible with your prose.

Use examples

The polemicist Christopher Hitchens coined Hitchens' Razor. “What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence”. Your claims are only as good as the evidence you provide.

So give us proof. Case studies. Data. And make the case studies real world, with named individuals and companies (no one trusts anonymised examples, they could be made up).

Don't be obvious

Here is a (non) riveting prediction for the year ahead from the CEO of a Fortune 100 company, taken from a press release we received.

“Innovation will be at the heart of what we will see in the next 12 months. This will be both in terms of product offerings, as businesses continue the process of digitisation, and also operating models which will require investments in terms of people, competencies and technology."

The problem? It's obvious. Ridiculously so. Therefore it is boring. Spare us the obvious. We want to read the unusual. The unexpected. The passionate.

Re-read your article. Look at any statement which is obvious. Delete that line.

Finally,

If you want to plug your company, tell us what it does. How often we receive articles from companies who forget to say. Or try to explain, but can't do it.

A recent conversation went like this:

BizAge: “What does your company do?”

CEO: “We are a technology solutions provider”

“Yes, but what does that mean?”

“We encapsulate value generation”

“Oh, so you make tractor parts?”

“Eh..? No, we make HR software.”

“Right. At last. Thank you. Say that”

Make it clear for the reader! They, and I, will thank you for it.

That's it! If you follow these rules (especially the hook'em and hold'em introduction) you'll publish a magnificent article which adds a lustrous sheen to your brand.

Written by
BizAge Interview Team
December 12, 2022
Written by
December 12, 2022