Know Your Reader When Using Allusions in Business Blogs

White dove isolated on black.
An allusion is a figure of speech that makes reference to a place, person, or event. The point of using allusions in writing? An allusion can:

  • get readers thinking about your subject in a new way
  • get a point across without going into a lengthy explanation
  • cement a bond between the writer and readers based on shared experiences and knowledge

Blog content writers can use allusions with all three of those results in mind.

  • In a financial planner’s blog: There’s no need to act like a Scrooge (allusion from Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”). Simply plan your charitable giving as part of your overall monthly budget.
  • In an internet security provider’s blog: You may think a new piece of software can be useful to your business, but it can turn out to be a Trojan Horse (allusion from Homer’s “Iliad “about how the Greeks won the war through trickery).
  • In a nutrition counselor’s blog: If chocolate is your Achilles’ heel (allusion from Greek mythology), allow yourself one chocolate indulgence each week, cutting back on other sweets.

Because allusions make reference to something other than what is directly being discussed, explains, you may miss an allusion or fail to understand it if you do not know the underlying story, literary tale or other reference point.

In the Indianapolis Star the other day, I solved the Cryptoquip as follows:  “Did you see that bird meditating while using a mantra? It was probably an om-ing pigeon.” This rather clever puzzle uses a combination of a pun (homing pigeon) and an allusion. It also reminded me that, as a blog content writer, I need to gauge my readers’ level of education and familiarity with the reference.

Remember, an allusion does not describe in detail the person or thing to which it refers. The writer expects the reader to possess enough knowledge to spot the allusion and grasp its importance in a text. Problem is, if readers don’t get the connection, they’re going to find your content frustrating more than illuminating.

Know your reader when using allusions in business blogs!


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