Vilified throughout history by technical writers, stodgy English teachers and Stephen King, fluff is hardly the literary monster some malcontents lead others to believe. Though some have mistakenly, crassly, uncouthly abused fluff for the purposes of padding high school essays or extending word counts on uncharitably paying articles, fluff absolutely has its place in this world, and it’s time the humble content writer embraced this delightful device for its usefulness as entertainment in the blogging world. When it comes to engaging web content, expertly incorporated fluff is the undisputed monarch in the kingdom of websites-with-repeat-visitors.
Part of the reason for fluff’s perceived villainy lies in its mystery. What exactly is it? Is it extraneous material clogging up the gracefully minimalist information, or is it supplementary decoration, like so many Pier 1 tchotchkes, pretty if unnecessary? No. Fluff, wielded with care and consideration, is the buttercream frosting on the red velvet cupcake, the prize at the bottom of a cereal box, the three-song encore at a much-anticipated concert. In other words, it’s the best damn part. Fairly worthless on its own, when combined with the skeletal structure of sound information, fluff becomes better than the sum of its article parts. Relatable, readable and fun, fluff is what makes good blogs great, if added skillfully.
Fluffing 101 – Metaphors, Similes and Analogies
Elite fluff masters utilize metaphors, similes and analogies to clarify concepts, illustrate complex emotions and untangle abstract notions. Like water wings for toddlers, these literary devices help readers float happily within the material without becoming overwhelmed by the depths. Without the air-puffed fluff for entertainment and exposition, browsers may find the reading dense and unexciting.
Getting carried away, however, is a problem. Fluff falls flat when the creative examples distract, rather than engage the reader. Mixed metaphors are momentarily confusing, but worse still are the misleading ideas that inhibit understanding or are simply tangential and irrelevant.
Fluffing 201 – Personal Tangents
Blog writing is mainly an attempt to connect with the glazed-eyed and judgmental masses of the Internet community — those who slaver for disposable diversions. By including relatable personal tangents — the more humorous or gripping the better — within the text, a content writer manipulates users into ever so briefly snapping back in touch with their humanity, or something akin to it. It’s still vital for those reminiscences, stories and anecdotes to relate to the subject matter in a very clear way, and concision is highly recommended, but that fairy dust of poignant familiarity often results in strong investment.
Fluffing 301 – Pop Culture References
Obviously best for trivial articles that don’t require evergreen material, pop culture references are an attractive flavor booster for a wide variety of genres that benefit from a touch of humor or timely attribution. A note of warning, plainly desperate attempts to squeeze famous names like Lindsay Lohan into unqualified blurbs is not only tortuous for viewers, but it will also swiftly propel them towards another, more nuanced and flowing website.
Fluffing 401 – Romance Copy
Perhaps the bane of Mr. King’s authoring existence, romance copy is often the most fun when it comes to writing online. The flowery, overly descriptive nature of excessive adjectives paints a lovely readable Rembrandt, stippling the literary canvas with powerfully bright words that titillate and delight, illustrating a concept from a hundred different angles even if only one is strictly necessary. Especially popular in the age of food, fashion and gossip porn, gushingly seductive prose entrances readers with its evocative wording, coaxing out feelings they never knew they had for the subject, and leaving them breathlessly hungry for more.
It’s hard to argue against the clean, forthright and authoritative nature of a professional or technical piece of writing, but both journalists and copy writers, bloggers and content creators know, the most memorable, captivating and engrossing articles season their information with a generous dose of spicy fluff. Though frowned upon by the intellectual elite, like MSG or reality TV, fluff is a minor guilty pleasure that’s impossible to resist.
Ashley B is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.