I write a post. I click ‘publish’ and immediately, the first few words of my latest story appear in your feed. Are you intrigued? Do you click onto the link and read the whole post? Or maybe you scroll past my notification, in search of something more interesting.

“Read me! Read me!” shout dozens of post notifications. They are all vying for our attention. Which ones should we read in full? Do we read them all? I wonder if anyone reads every post of every blog they are subscribed to.  I’m sure that would be quite a feat.

I think there’s three features of a post notification that can capture our attention, encouraging us to follow the link to the full story.

The first is subject matter. I have discovered that posts about blogging are popular. 

Then there’s the post title. My story Andy Elvis Presley got quite a bit of attention. I wonder why. And how about Those Weird Unschoolers? Would that title lure you in, if you're a homeschooler? Or maybe Life after Babies might appeal if you are in the same stage of life as me.

Finally, there's the first few words of the post. I guess these words are a bit like the first paragraphs of a novel. If the beginning of the story doesn't grab our attention, the book gets shoved back on the shelf and will never be read. Maybe the first few words are the most important words in the whole post. If we get them wrong, they may be the only words of the post some people will read.

So I’ve been thinking about the first paragraphs of my blog stories. I had a look at some of my more popular posts to see how they began.  Here’s a few samples…

When I regained consciousness, I discovered I was lying in a pool of blood.

Yesterday I found these key search words in my stats: “I am too sad to live”.

Yesterday, we buried our baby. Today, I am kneeling on the ground beside my son’s grave, tears streaming down my face. I thrust aside the mountain of funeral flowers, and then I start to dig into the loose damp earth with my fingers.

Shortly before Andy and I were due to be married, my future mother-in-law took me aside and said, “You don’t really want to marry my son, do you?”

I am a skirt girl.

Would you have been tempted to read those posts in full? Would you have wanted to know what happened next?

I’d like to think that everyone who subscribes to my blog wants to read every story I write. But I know that doesn’t happen. I'm not one of those big bloggers who has readers hanging onto her every word. Each time I write something, I have to provide some evidence my post is worth reading. And sometimes I fail. Many times, I am sure, readers just scroll right past my notification. 

And so I have been thinking...Maybe I need to choose those first few words of a post much more carefully.

Has anyone else ever thought about the best way to begin a post? What captures your interest when you see posts in your feed? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

By the way, just for fun, does anyone know which stories the above sentences come from? 

Image: Random Words by Chris HaldermanCC BY-ND 2.0

Post a Comment

  1. Sue I adore you and your writing skills :) You always captivate....

    1. Lisa,

      It's so lovely to see you here on my blog! Thank you for writing your very kind words. I'm smiling!

      God bless!

  2. I think you already write good opening sentences. It must come naturally.

    I don't really have any writing skills but I had a look in my list to see what caught my interest. Here's what I came up with:
    A question
    A statement that seems incomplete - intriguing!
    Something about one of my interests
    An interesting quote
    A reminiscence
    Anything with the words 'crazy', 'fun' or, even better, 'FREE'!!!!
    Anything with 'og', 'hvis' or 'jeg' in it. I have no idea what they mean but it says Uglemor is the author so it must be good!

    Now, I'm off to polish up my dismal writing skills - going through my list, I realised that I wouldn't read even one of my own posts!

    God bless, Sue:-)
    PS. Perhaps, you could write a post about this. I'm sure you could do way better than what I came up with:-)

    1. Vicky,

      I reckon you could post this comment as a blog post. It would generate some good discussion!

      Oh yes! the word 'free' always results in lots of visits. I guess that's why bloggers do free giveaways.

      An incomplete statement? It's always intriguing when the words run out just at a critical point! I just have to click on and find out what comes next!

      I agree with you about those Danish words. I just can't help myself. They always tempt me to read the full post!

      Polishing up writing skills? It seems to me that as long as we write a great first paragraph, it doesn't matter about the rest of the post... unless our readers get wise to that trick.

      There's one more draw card you didn't mention: the promise of some beautiful artwork or photos. That works for me every time!

      Thank you for your very interesting comment!

  3. Yes, a few of those beginning statements are familiar :)
    I think you have what I lack - the gift of storytelling and writing in a way that is both eloquent and interesting. I think this is what makes a blog interesting - the way that something is told, not just the thing itself.
    I actually find myself at the moment reading your blog (and probably Vicky's as well) more than most others. I used to read blogs for art and craft inspiration, but the enjoyment of doing that just isn't there anymore, I need to read blogs that are relevant and helpful to me in my vocation.
    God bless :)

    1. Kelly,

      Thank you for your kind words! It's so nice to think of you reading my blog. You visit my blog and share my stories, while I visit yours and feast my eyes on all your beautiful creative projects. Isn't it lovely to share each other's passions?

      Your comment is so generous. Thank you!

  4. I don't know why anyone WOULDN'T want to read your stuff!

    1. Kellie,

      Thank you! I really appreciate your comment especially as I suspect we might have very different interests and beliefs. I don't suppose you write grief and faith stories like me! Looking at your long list of followers, I conclude you must have many blogging friends. Thank you for taking the time to visit me.

  5. Very interesting Post Sue. I like reading your blog..you have great Blog post openers.
    You stories twist and turn and that's exciting..
    thanks for sharing your thoughts on this matter though..
    I often think, when I am writing a post, How would Sue start this...So there you have it...Inspired by another blog.
    God Bless

    1. Leanne,

      Isn't it great to share ideas? I always enjoy chatting blogging with you. Do you remember a couple of years ago we both wrote about friends on the same day? And then one day I was bemoaning the fact I didn't have any post ideas, and you shared how you keep a notebook. I've been doing that every since you told me about yours. I think we can learn a lot from each other.

      I have been enjoying your own A-Z posts. I'm so glad you decided to give the challenge a go!

  6. Blog hopping this morning. I'm new at blogging, I see and read that you can teach me a few things.

    1. Cathrina,

      I enjoyed visiting your blog this morning. Maybe it's you who could teach me something. I love the book collage in your side bar. There's lots of books in it that are my favourites too. I shall have to find out how to put a collage like that together!

      Thank you for visiting my blog and following me!

  7. Oh Sue I do read your blog and Leonie's ...Just don't comment...Guess I should more. I apologize.

    1. Lisa,

      No apologies necessary. You are welcome to read quietly any time you like! Life gets busy and there's not always time to stop and say hello. I am just pleased you visit my blog. Thank you so much!

  8. Who would dare scroll through your posts? About those beginning lines though, several writing books say they must grab and intrigue (e.g The First Five pages by Noah Lukeman and Words Fail Me by Patricia O'Conner.)

    1. Anabelle,

      You have just tempted me with two more writing books!!! I will have to look them up. I am hopeless when it comes to books. So many on my wish list! A new writing book arrived in the post yesterday: The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith. It's good! Thank you for the recommendations.

  9. Interesting. New follower here. I'm stopping by from the "A to Z" challenge and I look forward to visiting again.


    1. Sylvia,

      Thank you for stopping to say hello! And thank you for following my blog. I hope you'll return soon.

  10. Great post and food for thought!

    1. Colleen,

      Thank you! It's always lovely to see you here on my blog. God bless!

  11. Very intriguing about those opening words!

    Altho seriously, you could write about the town dump and I'd read it.


    1. Chris,

      I guess the opening words aren't so important when we subscribe to a blog as we get the whole post in an email. But maybe it's different when we're scrolling through our dashboard or FB feeds.

      The town dump? My! I think it would certainly stretch my talents to write an interesting post on that topic! It's so nice to know you'd read it anyway. Thank you!

  12. I've read 3 of the blog entries that you listed. I try to read as many of your blog entries as possible, usually, (like today), I'm reading several, trying to catch up. I have the notifications all saved in my inbox, so I can get straight to your blog and find the ones I've missed. Some I've missed completely... some you wrote a long time ago, and I will stumble across one.

    Usually I understand and feel as you do on most topics. There are some though, that are a topic I am unfamiliar with, and cannot identify with, but I like reading about it anyway, since it gives me something to think about, and I always enjoy reading how something is important to you. Sometimes I feel like I am there with you!! That's fun.. :)

    I wish I knew what 'drew' readers.. LOL I seem to have the corner on what does NOT draw readers. I think I can count on one hand the people who read maybe half of my posts regularly. But that's okay. It is what it is.

    I do love your posts. I like your take on things, and I love that you have a big family. And I love your sense of humour. ♥

    1. Susan,

      I am always so thrilled when you share my posts. We always have such good conversations in the comments box. Thank you for reading so many of my stories.

      "There are some though, that are a topic I am unfamiliar with, and cannot identify with... "You have made me curious! It is very kind of you to read them anyway.

      Susan, what I love about your blog is your writing voice. I can just imagine you saying everything as I read what you have written. All your posts are stuffed full of your personality. I love you and I love your blog. Anyone who isn't reading your posts is missing out on your wonderful friendship.

      Thank you for taking the time to say what you like about my blog. What I love most about it is my friends who visit. Hugs!

  13. I read every post you are publishing.
    It may not be immediately (like now...) and I'm not commenting often, but I read them all.

    1. Miu,

      I was thinking about you right before I discovered your comment! It is so lovely to hear from you. You are very kind reading all my posts. You have made me smile!

      Thank you for stopping to say hello. God bless!


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