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How to write a summer article

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Stephen Caruso / Visual Editor

Stephen Caruso / Visual Editor

Stephen Caruso / Visual Editor

By Mariam Shalaby | Columnist

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How to write the single most amazing summer internet article of your life:

  1. Write a catchy headline

Let’s be honest: Who has time to actually read articles anyway? People would rather spend their precious time browsing through their Facebook and Instagram feeds. If you want people to read your article, your headline needs to be attention-grabbing.

Hyperbole is an excellent way to make your headline stand out. This once-taboo trick of the trade is bound to snag you readers of all kinds. Remember, it’s not “lying” — it’s embellishing. Try buzzwords like “Life-Changing” and “Unbelievable” to really reel them in.

Always, and I mean always, allude to the present. Use words like “Right Now,” the name of the current month and “This Year.” It’s not like your readers know what the date or time is. Hint: use the word “hack” as a synonym for “tip.” It’s more hip to make things sound techy — even if they aren’t.

“Curly Hair Tips” becomes “Curly Hair Hacks.” “Late-Night Study Tips” becomes “Late-Night Study Hacks.” Whoa. The increase in cool-factor is almost tangible. Let’s try out some of the techniques we’ve learned so far to transform “Barbecue Tips” into an internet-ready headline: “Life-Changing Barbecue Hacks to Try This Summer!”

Wow!

  1. Make it a list

It’s 2016. Our public schools are failing — cursive isn’t even taught anymore! If that isn’t a glaring indication of the American reader’s downfall, I don’t know what is.

Simply put, the mental capacity of your average consumer is just too small to absorb anything more complex than a basic list. Do them a favor and ditch the well-supported thesis statement. Lists are where it’s at.

  1. USE CAPITAL LETTERS

Tell your readers you mean BUSINESS. The more in-your-face the words, the better. You want to wow your readers with your enthusiasm. IN FACT, most readers perceive words in all capital letters as an INCREASE in volume. In other words, CAPITAL LETTERS SCREAM. Young people also scream to communicate. HOW RELATABLE!

  1. Keep it current

I don’t want last year’s memes on this article. Not even a whiff.

  1. Speak casually

Key word: SPEAK. Remind yourself that you are no longer writing, you are speaking to your reader. Let them know you’re just like they are.

Don’t be afraid to refer to yourself as “obsessed” or as “trash.” Never mind that this article isn’t about you. Even articles about “food to try this summer vacation” can — and should — refer to you and your own emotions.

Filler words like “like,” profanity and slang phrases are all a go. You want to make the readers feel like they’re not even reading. (Refer to point two on American readers’ irreparable mental capacities)

  1. The Golden Rule

I am about to reveal the rule that will alter your life as a writer of internet articles forever.

The less energy expenditure needed for a certain article, the longer time the reader will spend on the page instead of leaving altogether. If you’ve grown up reading Jane Austen, you may think this counter-intuitive, but it makes sense.

While it traditionally seems that the more difficult the passage, the longer the reader will take to finish it, today’s reader will simply give up. So it is up to you, the writer, to make their reading as easy to consume as possible. Any time you find yourself at a crossroads or facing a literary dilemma in your listicle writing, refer to The Golden Rule.

  1. End with a bang

By which I mean, don’t “end” at all. Conclusions require more energy just for the reader to read the same content again in condensed form. Please refer to point six. Since it requires more energy to do so, the reader won’t even read it. So, there is no point in writing a conclusion at all. Just leave it hanging. Trust me, it’s hip.

Mariam Shalaby primarily writes on social change and foreign culture for The Pitt News.

Write to her at mas561@pitt.edu.

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How to write a summer article