Man bites robotic dog

Robot dogSometimes, I write for Wired. The hardest thing about writing for them is getting their attention with the initial pitch. I can have a great story or idea in mind but if I don’t communicate it to them clearly, they don’t commission the story. Ironically, the more words I use, the less success I have. Ultimately, it’s about writing good headlines. Which is not my best thing.

It’s very much in my mind at the moment because I am editing a 28-page magazine for an Articulate client and coming up with the right headlines and subheads is a struggle. Too literal, too cute, too verbose, too boring, off-message etc. Sometimes a good headline just clicks but most of the time it’s a slogging match.

I met Darren Strange yesterday. He writes the Office Rocker blog. We had a great chat about Microsoft and blogging and other cool stuff. Really interesting, intelligent chap (which shows in his blog).

In passing, he told me that one of his most popular posts had the most arresting headline: “Bill Gates Runs Like a Girl.” Which just shows the power of headlines, especially on blogs where the headline is often all you have to get someone to click on your post in their RSS reader.

The whole thing reminds me of that Wendy Cope poem: “Making Cocoa For Kingsley Amis”:

I had a dream last night.
Some record seemed vital.
I didn’t think much of the poem,
But I loved the title.

Which brings me to the ultimate Wired headline: “Man bites robotic dog.” Now all I need is a story to match the headline.

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4 Responses to Man bites robotic dog


  1. Bad Language / How to write for a blog - 14 June 2006

    […] Killer headlines. The headline is your invitation to the party. You’ve got to explain why the reader should come. My opinion is that smarty-pants headlines don’t work online or in RSS readers. I scan over 1,000 posts a day in my RSS reader. For me, factual, specific headlines are better. See: Man bites robotic dog. […]

  2. Pick of the Orchard 5.18.06 | Dallas Public Relations Idea Grove - 30 January 2012

    […] Man bites robotic dog(Bad Language) […]

  3. What is a story? Storytelling and PR tips for writers and businesses - 4 August 2016

    […] I always thought the perfect headline for Wired was ‘geek bites robotic dog.’ You heard it here […]

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