9 Keys To Penning A Nice Little List Article


I’ll start with an idea that everyone can relate to. You know, just a little concept to get the people going. Then I’ll throw ‘em off the scent by presenting an angle they may not have considered. Or maybe they have; the readers have gotten good at this.

Whether it’s the type of people you see at some event, the type of people you don’t see at some event, or the type of people you don’t see period because they don’t leave the house, I’m going to nail that obscure third reference and leave you wanting more.

So let’s now make it explicitly clear what I’m writing about. It’s a list article about list articles. I ain’t writing the damn Magna Carta.

1. The Straightforward Point

Number one’s got to hit all demographics. You can’t be alienating anyone this early in the game. Trick your reader into thinking he or she will be able to relate to each upcoming item.

Using colorful language and fresh metaphors, I’ll illustrate your neurotic buddy Jonny to a tee. I’ve now gained your trust and you will keep reading (unless you think of something better to do like taking out your neighbor’s trash or reading a book about plants).

2. Still A Good Point But Less Obvious

This point sounds specific but in reality, it’s extremely general. I may make a Tommy Pickles reference that seems like I’m targeting a specific audience, but come on, who hasn’t seen ‘The Rugrats.’ I want people to feel in on the joke.

I’ve now gained way too much confidence as I think I was relatable with two points.

3. Ridiculous Personal Anecdote

This point is basically only in here for me. Although I will include some self-deprecating humor to make you think I’m not a dick. Basically making fun of myself allows me to continue making fun of you.

4. Old Reliable

Ah, old reliable. Here I’ll make a point that I know everyone can relate to, but I’ll use a creative technique so it seems original.

Maybe I’ll go with…

  1. the list inside the list strategy
  2. crushing one liner which I probably used last article
  3. a callback to a joke I made earlier (It’s not Jonny’s fault he was accidentally injected with Hepatitis B by his pediatrician as a kid).

5. Powerhouse Reason

Need to save a powerhouse reason for the middle of the article. You can’t waste all your material in one spot. They tell you to diversify your portfolio.

Your powerhouse reason’s got to compete with reasons one and two for superiority. With this point, I take back my credibility (if I had any to begin with).

6. Change of Pace

The Change of Pace (or curveball, as it’s known in the trenches), presents a viewpoint that often is in direct opposition to your main point. As long as you acknowledge that though, it’s a useful tool.

7. The Reference Point

A variation of one of the earlier points. It’s just a small modification and wouldn’t make sense without the earlier item. Gets a chuckle 10/10 times (Surveyed 10 relatives).

8. Filler Point

Throw out some unrelatable idea and just hope no one will notice. You’ve strategically placed this in-between the reference point and the finisher. Nice job.

9. The Finisher

I may reference how odd it is that I only had nine reasons and not a gentlemen’s ten. You’ll see through this and realize that I just didn’t have enough to say. I’ll acknowledge this so it’s less awkward. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

More From Thought Catalog