Sometimes, 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.