By Kathy Widenhouse, award-winning nonprofit content writer, website publisher, and author of 9 books.
An online devotional for writers
Urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. (Luke 14:23, NLT)
“A Little Man Is on the Way.”
The headline, centered on a graphic of a white shirt with miniature suspenders and a bow tie, was an invitation to a baby shower. And it was intriguing. Who was this little guy?
What followed was the usual invitation information: the mother’s name, shower date, time, place, and RSVP contact with a note explaining that gifts of diapers would be especially welcome. (This was the mom’s third child and she already had plenty of baby gear and clothes.)
I was touched to be included in this lovely celebration of a new life.
Just like this precious invitation, a headline is an invitation to your reader to take part in your content.
But when it comes to headlines, we writers tend to complicate matters. A headline can be too broad: “Baby Shower.” Or it might lack enough information and that prevent you from knowing who, what, where, when, or why – and keep you from reading further. Or worse, a headline can be deceptive by promising too much but not delivering the content – like being invited to a shower for triplets when the mother is expecting a singleton.
It’s helpful to think of your headline in comparison to Jesus’s story about The Great Feast (Luke 14:15-24). Some ignore it. Others respond. But the invitation is extended with clarity and with welcome.
It’s a writer’s role to extend a genuine, intriguing invitation. It’s a reader’s role to respond.
Your headline is an invitation to readers.
Thank you for extending an engaging invitation to all. Let me follow your model as I write headlines. Show me how to be welcoming to readers with specific information so they can respond … and read.
In Jesus’s name, Amen.
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