The form and function of an article is largely dictated by the client or company who’s pitching the topic. While one content consumer might want an article that’s fact-heavy and informative, streamlined with automated, machine-like language and a concrete P implies Q logic, another might find this essayist style leaden and overcast, preferring a loose, humorous or more cutting-edge and lyrical approach.
The poet Ezra Pound was more famous for his call-to-arms urging writers to Make it New than he was for his muddled, high-brow Cantos, and this is something the freelance article writer needs to remember as they tap their way around the keyboard in search of the perfect word or turn of phrase. In other words, don’t take the art out of article writing. Even those articles with stringent guidelines and Fascist-sounding rules, the ones that have topics so yawn-inducing that you’d rather watch paint dry than attempt to Make It New, have some space and wiggle room where you can breath fresh air into the prose.
Keeping the demands of the client in mind, many freelance writers are too willing to play it safe when it comes to article writing. This is especially true when it concerns Internet content, where there is some type of pre-conceived notion as to the modus operandi of the platform and the place an article has on that platform. However, this lukewarm approach to freelance writing often backfires, and writers are continually criticized and red-penned by clients for being too…VANILLA. In the end, writers not only need to Make It New, but they’re required to dip that vanilla prose into some chocolate or rainbow sprinkles (jimmies, in New England).
This isn’t to say that every time you write an article you need to reinvent the wheel. At the same time, why not amp up the literary techniques? Toss in a metaphor, simile or some alliteration. Use subheads as storytelling chapters instead of only as a means to break up text into three-sentence blurbs and soundbites. Volta is a literary term that means a shift in tone, direction or cadence; subheads are perfect for that too.
Don’t forget the importance of the title. Put the art back in article writing by jazzing up the title with a portmanteau word. Malware, Bromance, Brangelina…these hybrid word splices have the power to dazzle readers, sell headlines and boost advertising clicks.
Damon H is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.