Intriguing meta-title: Ceci n’est pas un blog post

metaAll good blog posts are the same. They begin with a startling idea that grabs you right off. Like sitcoms or romance novels, they have a formula. You get sucked in, even though you subconsciously know this.

Have you noticed the rhythm that blog posts share — and the fact that many start with a rhetorical question? Then they add some detail about the question, with the intent to keep you reading. Personally, I use “I” and “you” so you’ll perceive the post as conversational.

Then comes a trenchant observation: Meta is a hot concept right now. The irony is that that commenting on its very trendiness is, itself, meta. Are you with me?

To keep you awake at this point in the post, though, we either need a smartass remark — that meta-loving hipsters are as bound by tradition as the rest of us — or gratuitous bullshit profanity.

One other thing all posts have is a tpyo or two. They’re impossible to spot until the post is pulbished.

You won’t stick around for the meat of the post, however, unless there’s a structure. That’s why there are subsections or bullets.

A fascinating heading is like a signpost

The first section title is crucial. It needs to be interesting enough to make you read, but parallel to what’s coming in the second and subsequent titles.

You can organize these sections chronologically, by importance, or any other way. But however you arrange them, make sure you grab them with the first one.

The second heading must be parallel

It doesn’t have to be as interesting, although it can be. But it has to establish a pattern.

Good things come in threes

You need at least three headings, bullets, or cases. More than three is fine, but people intuitive expect three.

On the other hand, you can do with a point-counterpoint format. But two parallel headings just feels unsatisfying.

One final observation: all good posts end with a final observation that ties things together. That leaves you feeling satisfied, and hopefully, with a desire to share.

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  1. Josh, for complete meta-meta-meta-ness (and even more bullshit profanity), should you have done this post as a list? Of lists?