Charles Dickens. William Shakespeare. F. Scott Fitzgerald. These are all names we heard before—some of us only in high school English class—and names many of us probably feel have little to no connection to our business blogging today. Right?
Wrong. Fellow English majors and lovers of literature, I’m about to draw a connection between the greatest novelists of all time and the instant gratification world of business blogging. Brace yourselves.
Even though I’m a devoted user of the Internet and I truly don’t know how we all got by before Google came into our lives, I also think there’s a lot we can learn from those who came before us. Specifically, many bloggers could afford to pick up a few lessons from the great writers of history. Here are a few ideas on how to improve your blog using the wit and wisdom of famous authors.
Lede like Dickens
The opening sentence of Charles Dickens’s famous novel A Christmas Carol reads as follows: “Marley was dead, to begin with.” From these six words, we can deduce that Marley is dead; that he will be a major player in the story; that his death has already happened and that events will transpire around it; and that we will probably learn a lot more about him in the pages to come.
This opening demonstrates that it’s possible to write a single sentence—even just six words!—and convey a whole heck of a lot. So stop burying the lede already and say what you want to say—concentrating on the important details of your product or service at the beginning of your post.
Shut up like Shakespeare
Any list like this must include the Bard, right? There are so many great Shakespeare quotes that it’s hard to choose just one, but Polonius’ line in Hamlet that reads “Brevity is the soul of wit” is a pretty good place to start. To translate: Keep your posts brief and to the point, avoiding tangents and concentrating on connecting with prospects. You’ll keep your readers engaged and they’ll be more likely to read to the end.
Punctuate like Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald, the author of The Great Gatsby and other classic novels, once said, “Cut out all these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.” Even a business blog is a more casual setting than a novel and deserves to be treated as such, you also don’t want to overuse the exclamation point. Doing so will make your sentences sound like they’re being read by a giggly teenage girl. (Exception to this rule: If you are a giggly teenage girl, then, by all means, exclaim away! But don’t be surprised when, in 10 years’ time, you reread your blog posts and feel deeply embarrassed.)
These are just a few ideas on how to draw blogging wisdom from long-dead authors. No doubt there are many more maxims out there just waiting for you to pluck them from the annals of great literature. Now go write a great blog post in the spirit of Shakespeare (or Dickens, or Fitzgerald, or any other great author you love)! But by all means, skip the exclamation points.