How to write online for impact

Don’t write like this online…

Where Every Single Short Sentence is on a separate line.

Like this.

And this.

And this.

Why?

Well, it’s literally difficult to read. When we’re taking in information, our eyes need to move physically from one sentence to the next, to be able to make sense of the content.

Writing one short sentence after another is like holding up a massive stop sign at the end of every point.

It flows poorly – and affects tone and argument, turning a piece into a series of bald statements.

Just imagine reading a blog, article or entire book written this way!

There’s a reason why people write online like this: they think it has more impact. And algorithm hacking has told them that the longer people stay on their posts means more engagement and reach.

I don’t know about you, but I just don’t stick around for content presented like that. It disengages me. As an editor, I look for great construction.

It’s a sign of a skilled communicator who:

  • really thinks about their audience
  • expresses themselves well
  • understands that communication isn’t a one-way channel.

The key here is that it isn’t just what you write, but how you write it that’s as important.

As Marshall McLuhan famously said:

‘The medium is the message.’

Good structure serves and supports valuable content: it’s key to clarity and cognition. If structure works against content, readers will drop out, fast – and go elsewhere for someone who can give them what they need.

So, don’t be afraid of a paragraph!

Whatever you do, don’t translate persistently short sentences to longform, such as a book. Many writers start out online on social media or blogging, and construct the same way for ebook and print – I see it in scripts I assess.

To be sure, walls of text aren’t good either, whether online or print. They’re just as hard to negotiate, because their sheer density does the opposite: completely buries the information, making it hard for readers to work out what is being said.

Short sentences are great – for impact. Use them wisely and they’ll serve you well.

Otherwise, when you’re writing online, it’s good to keep paras to three or so lines.

That’s the Goldilocks length: not too short, not too long – just right!

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