Are You Writing the Right Chord?

by | May 25, 2016

I’m a fan of Seth Godin’s blogs … short, sometimes sweet and always stimulating. Recently, he wrote a headline: Striking a chord. From beginning to end, it was delivered in six sentences. A blog that generated an “Oh YES” outspoken response from me.

Here’s the beauty of it … Godin’s blogs are rarely long—certainly, this one above wasn’t; yet it’s powerful. I felt no dissonance as it sang to me.

As a writer, do you fill your paragraphs with words that ramble; that really don’t move the story or premise forward because you feel you’ve got to fill up space? Or maybe you just don’t know where it will all work, but you will add it in anyway and figure it later? Or how about someone told you that you had to have so many words in a chapter on a genre type of book and you need the word count?

In writing a blog, you don’t have to deliver a tome, just a course—appetizers that could be teasers, leading to reader to a multiple part blog; main courses that deliver ideas and solutions; or the dessert that sums it all up in a tidy package.

You want something that creates a salivating morsel that is enjoyed and often creates tasteful ahas and takeaways for your reader. Some blogs are designed to create action. Others contemplation, even cautions. Or, just a sharing of information. Some are long; some are short, like this one.

If another 1,000 words or bust is your motto, think again. Sometimes your story, concept or solution needs breadth in its rollout. At others, a short, succinct, even punchy method is all that is needed.

Do your words, your sentences, your book series, your branding, you … stand as a cord? Or do they create the harmony that brings the music of what you write into chords of pleasure for the reader? And with readers’ reactions, for you?

Attempting to write a minor essay is one of the many mistakes, authors and writers make. In an attempt to “fill a page”—the chord gets lost. Your writing; what you deliver to your reader—should have a yen and yang to it. A harmony that strikes the desired chord for your reader. Does yours?


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  1. Jackson Butters

    Writing an article is a tricky task. It should be crisp, precise and informative to drive readers attention. In my opinion the most difficult part of it is selecting a topic. A catchy topic can attract readers, so utmost attention should be given to select a best topic.

  2. Andrew

    To build on this, if you want to know what chords might sound kind of good, but not necessarily in the same key, add the next two chord in either direction around the circle.

  3. Ernie Zelinski

    I too am a big fan of Seth Godin and subscribe to his blog: Here are some of my favorite bits of wisdom from Seth that apply to being successful as a writer and self-published author:

    “Books work as an art form (and an economic one) because they are
    primarily the work of an individual.”
    — Seth Godin

    “I am not a brand You are not a brand. You’re a person.
    A living, breathing, autonomous individual who doesn’t seek to maximize ROI or long-term brand value. You have choices. You have the ability to change your mind. You can tell the truth, see others for who they are and choose to make a difference. Selling yourself as a brand sells you too cheap.”
    — Seth Godin

    “Trading in your standards in order to gain short-term attention or profit isn’t as easy as it looks. Once-great media brands that now traffic in cheesecake and quick clicks didn’t get there by mistake. Respected brands that rushed to deliver low price at all costs had to figure out which corners to cut, and fooled themselves into thinking they could get away with it forever. As the bottom gets more and more crowded, it’s harder than ever to be more short-sighted than everyone else. If you’re going to need to work that hard at it, might as well put the effort into racing to the top instead.”
    — Seth Godin

    “When you do work that matters, the crowd will call you a fool. If you do something remarkable, something new and something important, not everyone will understand it (at first). Your work is for someone, not everyone. Unless you’re surrounded only by someones, you will almost certainly encounter everyone. And when you do, they will jeer.
    That’s how you’ll know you might be onto something.”
    — Seth Godin

    “Criticism is difficult to do well. Recently, we’ve made it super easy for unpaid, untrained, amateur critics to speak up loudly and often. Just because you can hear them doesn’t mean that they know what they’re talking about. Criticism is easy to do, but rarely worth listening to, mostly because it’s so easy to do.”
    — Seth Godin

    “The only things we spend time and money on are things that we believe are worth more than they cost. If people aren’t buying your product, it’s not because the price is too high. It’s because we don’t believe you enough, don’t love it enough, don’t care enough.”
    — Seth Godin

    “Being average is for losers. Being better than 98 percent of the competition used to be
    fine. In the world of Google, though, it’s useless. If you are not going to get to #1, you might as well quit right now.”
    — Seth Godin

    “Pretty websites … are rarely websites that convert as well as unpretty ones.
    … it’s a mistake to also expect your pretty website to generate cash, to have the maximum percentage of clicks, to have the most efficient possible funnel of attention to action.”
    — Seth Godin

    • Judith Briles

      Ernie … I love these gems from Seth … there are so many times that I have shared his wisdom forward. All of what you shared are what I call “chewy” … thanks for ahas for my day!

  4. Joel Friedlander

    Great point, Judith. And this is a lesson I’m still struggling to learn as a blogger. Just because “there’s more to say” doesn’t mean you have to say it all at once. More easily digestible—and memorable—posts can be very effective. Thanks!

    • Judith Briles

      So agree Joel. and for those long ones, there’s Part I, II and sometimes III! I’m constantly reminding authors–if there’s a word, a sentence, a paragraph or gulp, a chapter, that can be deleted and your story/concept/solution moves forward … it’s usually wise to “x” it out. If your pooch Fluffy isn’t essential to the story or your element in NF, Fluffy gets to leave the page.



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