“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen,” reads the opening line of George Orwell’s novel 1984. That line earned a spot on ClassicLit.com’s list of "Top Ten Opening Lines".
Would that same Orwell line make the grade as an opener in business blog content writing? Let’s take a closer look:
“A novel is made up of many thousands of sentences, but none is so deeply important as the opening line,” says litreactor. “It should be mysterious and compelling, either poetic or shockingly abrupt.”
A blog post might consist of a few dozen, rather than thousands of, sentences. Still, as a corporate blogging trainer, I’d have to agree: No line is as important as that opener.
Abrupt? Opening with a startling statistic is certainly one tactic blog writers can use to demonstrate to online readers that business owners and practitioners are familiar with the reader’s problem and know how to deal with it.
Compelling? Yes, that opening blog post line needs to be that. But, mysterious? Not such a good idea, I’d caution freelance blog content writers. In fact, one critical function served by the first line of any SEO marketing blog post is reassuring readers they’ve arrived at precisely the right place to find the products, services, and information they were looking for in the first place.
- Poetic or shocking? The first line of a business blog could take either approach, depending on the target audience. A spa, for example, might want to evoke a sense of relaxation and peace, whereas a home security systems company might want to take the opposite approach, “shocking” readers into appreciating the dangers of a home break-in.
The opening Orwell line about the clock striking thirteen does set the right tone for a science fiction book. One lesson newbie freelance bloggers must learn is to stay style-true to the “brand” of each client’s business or practice. Still, even though blogger “the Twisted Spinster” loves the line for its rhythm and slight weirdness, as a blogger, I’d have to give it a “Meh” (so-so) because it doesn’t confirm the “match” with the reader’s search.
“I do have a fondness for short opening lines,” observes the Twisted Spinster. So do I, but opening lines, like blog post length, can and should vary depending on what is being communicated — and to whom. In terms of how short an opening line should be, the rule I cite when offering business blogging assistance: is “Make blog posts as long as they need to be to get the point across (choosing just one point to emphasize in each post to begin with), but not a single sentence longer”.
Opening lines in novels and in blogging for business may not be long or deep, but they can certainly be deeply important!