The editor’s flip

the flip squareThere’s a neat editing trick that can quickly turn an unattractive draft blog into one that will instantly hook readers.

To ‘flip’, simply swap the first and last paragraphs of your draft blog.

That is:

  1. Move the last paragraph (or two) to the top.
  2. Move the first paragraph (or two) to the bottom.

Nine times out of ten you’ll end up with a more enticing blog, and save a lot of time searching for that elusive ‘hook’.

In my experience editing non-profit blogs, the flip has worked a treat.

Why does it work?

Linear narratives

We all tend to write linearly. When we tell a story, we start with what it’s about, move on to what happened, and end up with what it means.

So a draft blog is often structured like this:

  1. Background: what and where it was, who was there, what it’s about
  2. Actions: what happened, outputs
  3. Results: outcomes, impacts, implications, why it’s important, where to now

In other words:

  1. The boring stuff
  2. The guts
  3. The interesting stuff

This structure should be familiar to anyone who has ever edited blogs drafted by non-profit program staff: this is exactly how they are trained to think.

Flipped narrative

Swap the first and last sections, and this is what you get:

  1. Results: outcomes, impacts, implications, why it’s important and where to now
  2. Actions: what happened, outputs
  3. Background: what and where it was, who was there, what it’s about

Or

  1. The interesting stuff
  2. The guts
  3. The boring stuff

For online content it’s much better to have the interesting stuff visible first. Most online readers don’t like to wade through the background details before finding out what it all means. They are more likely to switch off if they don’t’ get the juicy stuff first.

If you’re not convinced, see what the flip might look like in practice in the sample blog at the bottom of this article.

And try it with your next draft – if it doesn’t work, hit ctrl+Z a couple of times. There’s really nothing to lose!

But wait – don’t delete the boring stuff

It’s important not to delete the background content.

The background details nourish the researchers in your audience, who want to dig deeper to understand what your work is about. These are the people who click the ‘download’ and ‘read more’ links in your content.

After the flip, these people will still be able to satisfy their need to research. But the benefit of the flip is that other, less research-inclined audience members are more likely to read your content.

And if your content is good enough, all your readers will end up at the bottom of your blog looking for more. By keeping eyes on your content, you can encourage alternative and deeper forms of engagement – that is, convert observers into researchers, campaigners and advocates. (See my article about these personas)

Sample flip

………………………………………..

1. The linear draft

In month and year, person’s name, our person’s job title, and person’s name, our person’s job title, travelled to location with the assistance of grantmaking organisation name and sponsor’s name to evaluate our program name.

The program uses program mechanisms and philosophy to program aims, objectives and goals.

Our intrepid team helped local communities build 100 shelters and safely dispose of four tonnes of plastic waste. This meant that giant meerkats are no longer exposed to harsh summer winds, and will not be tempted to forage for food from villages.

The lives of over 4,000 children were saved on this trip alone. And thanks to our collaborative approach with local communities, we know we’ll be able to save many more than this over the coming year.

Well done team!

………………………………………..

2. The flipped draft

We’ve just helped local communities in location save the lives of over 4,000 children. And thanks to our collaborative approach, we’ll be able to save many more than this over the coming year.

Our intrepid team travelled to Australia to help local communities build 100 shelters and safely dispose of four tonnes of plastic waste. This meant that giant meerkats are no longer exposed to harsh summer winds, and will not be tempted to forage for food from villages.

Well done team!

About the trip

In month and year, person’s name, our person’s job title, and person’s name, our person’s job title, travelled to location with the assistance of grantmaking organisation name and sponsor’s name to evaluate our program name.

The program uses program mechanisms to program aims, objectives, goals.

Find out more about the program »

See photos from the trip »

Read other stories from the program »

Donate to this program »

………………………………………..

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