Ever walked into a cold room on a chilly night?
You know what I mean. On a really cold night, step into a freezing room and turn the heating on full. The heater chugs. It kazooozas. But the room is still brrrrr. And then suddenly, about fifteen-twenty minutes later, thou art toasty (as hell, I might add). It ain’t quite summer, but hey, your blood is suddenly flowing again.
Aha, that’s how to put heat in your writing!
The heater, what?
Your writing needs blood to flow too, y’know. When you first start writing copy, you’re all stiff. Your brain isn’t quite doing the kazooza. The words and the ideas need some loosening up. There’s not enough heat in your copy. Yet, if (yes, if) you do get to 150-200 words, your ideas are starting to flow.
Flow, flow, flow your words…quickly down the stream
The hottest, most dramatic part of your information is not sitting in Paragraph No.1, but is cozily cuddled in the midst of hundreds of other words somewhere down in Para 6 or 8 or 10.
The most outstanding part of your concept is not in the spotlight, but hidden away, where it’s likely to be missed completely. The biggest reason why your opening paragraphs tend to sound ugh, is because you aren’t paying attention to the heater syndrome.
So here’s what you do to get things hotter again…
Step 1: Take an old article or piece of copy.
Step 2: Go down to the 150-200 word mark. It’s time to do some cut and pasting.
Step 3: Cut and paste the thought/copy around the 150 mark and put it right at the top of your article/copy.
Here’s what you’ll find
Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Goldilocks. She went for a walk in the forest. Pretty soon, she came upon a house. She knocked and, when no one answered, she walked right in.
Around the 150 mark, here’s what comes up:
“This porridge is too hot!” she exclaimed. So, she tasted the porridge from the second bowl.”This porridge is too cold,” she said. So, she tasted the last bowl of porridge.”Ahhh, this porridge is just right,” she said happily and she ate it all up.
Can you see the difference in the drama?
The second set of words (past the 150 mark) have more movement, more description, more mystery and intrigue. You literally want to know more. And excuse me, but when a customer wants to know more, it means they’re going to read more, aren’t they? Or to put it another way, if the reader doesn’t read the first fifty words, they aren’t likely to read much more. (Ooh, that hurts!)
Which makes the first fifty words pretttty important, doesn’t it?
The first fifty words of your speech, in your copy or in your article are your make or break point. If the words don’t lunge at your customer, and grab your customer’s brain by the throat, the brain wanders off to something more exciting.
The movies do the ‘exciting bit’, the soaps do it, so why don’t you?
Remember how ‘The Titanic’ began? When did you see the boat sailing out? In the first few frames? Or about 15-20 minutes into the movie? So what was in the first few minutes of the movie? Drama? Icebergs? People headed to their doom?
It’s the heater syndrome, mon ami…
Drama. Power. Action. Intrigue. It’s all buried 150-200 words into your copy.
Turn up the heat by moving your warm copy right to the top.
Or to put it another way…
Make your copy kazoooza!
(Note: When I started writing this copy, I was struggling too. The ‘heater syndrome’ idea was actually buried somewhere lower down in the original copy. Once I got the ‘heater’ concept moving, I was easily able to bind the rest of the article with the ‘heat’ analogy. And the article became far more effective. So yes, I take my own advice, too, you know. You can see the earlier version of the article in the italicised text below).
This is the original text
Do something really silly.
Pull up one of the pieces of copy you’ve written.
And start counting the words.
One hundred, One hundred and fifty…
Now look what you wrote at about the 150-word mark. Then look back at what the first few words of your paragraph looked like.
And kaboom it will hit you!
The opening paragraph is not sitting at the top (where you put it), but is cozily cuddled in the midst of hundreds of other words. The most dramatic idea is not up, front and center but hidden away, where it’s likely to be missed completely.
Darn, darn, darn!
The biggest reason why your opening paragraphs tend to sound ugh, is because you aren’t paying attention to the heater syndrome.
The heater, what?
You know what I mean. On a really chilly night, step into a freezing room and turn the heating on full. The heater chugs. It kazooozas. But the room is still brrrrr.
Yet 15-20 minutes later, suddenly thou art toasty (as hell, I might add). It ain’t quite summer, but hey your blood is suddenly flowing
Your writing needs blood to flow too, y’know.
To read more articles by Sean DSouza—and get a very useful report on “Why Headlines Fail”, go to PsychoTactics.com