For content marketers, 7 lessons from fiction writers

Show, rather than tell; realize that conflict and suspense are your friends; and borrow from other writers—but don’t let your writing sound like ‘writing.’

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Content marketing is storytelling, so it’s not bizarre to think that fiction writers might actually have some advice for us. Can we borrow narrative devices and writing tips from fiction? I certainly believe we can.

These seven skills, devices, and tactics come straight from the art of fiction, but they’re remarkable tools for any writer that hopes to draw attention and engagement:

1. The art of suspense

Marketers are data driven. They hate mysteries and unsolved problems. But content marketing is all about telling a story, and stories are all about mysteries and unresolved problems. In particular, suspense is what keeps a reader engaged from beginning to end. Tempting as it may be to answer all questions up front, it’s not always the best answer.

This can, understandably, conflict with more obvious content marketing practices like, say, solving problems for your readers. You have to strike a balance. But it’s equally important to understand that you don’t achieve suspense just by leaving questions unanswered. You need to fill the gap between question and answer with something useful.

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