Writing blog articles for your author website is a great way to connect with your readers, but it can be hard to write interesting, attention-getting posts on a set schedule. One creative way to engage your audience is to begin with a cold open. Often used on televisions shows like The Office, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Big Bang Theory, and Criminal Minds, a cold open is a scene that jumps right into the middle of the action or shows a comedic moment that pulls viewers into the episode. At Writer’s Relief, we know there are good reasons to start your blog post with a cold open (aka in medias res)—and good reasons why you might not.
Starting Your Blog Post With A Cold Open: Pros And Cons
6 Benefits Of A Cold Open:
Hooks your readers. Opening with a vivid scene or funny dialogue can capture your audience’s interest right from the start. Engage with their senses and imagination and they will continue reading to see where exactly you’re going with this.
Provides memorable examples to illustrate a point. Painting a picture of your—or someone else’s—experiences related to your topic can help readers quickly become invested. If the example is a problem or difficulty, having it in the cold open implies you might also offer readers a solution.
Makes your writing more relatable. Your readers will be bored (and maybe even a bit intimidated) by a blog post that starts with a list of dry facts or techno-speak. Starting with a cold open allows you to break the ice more gently and introduce your data in a more reader-friendly format.
It’s easier for readers to absorb information. Many people respond well to lessons in a narrative format. Think nursery rhymes and Greek mythology but for the modern adult. For example: “They were gone. All gone. The trail of editing breadcrumbs I’d left to find my way back to my original draft was swallowed up by an errant swipe of ‘Delete All,’ and I was lost.” Bet you want to know what the author says next!
Helps readers visualize. Dropping your readers into the middle of a detailed account can help them visualize the topic and actively connect the dots. Example: “I watched an old flip-flop float past my basement’s bottom step.” Your readers are now vividly picturing the flotsam and jetsam of a flooded basement and know this isn’t good.
Grabs attention. “You can tell me I’m an idiot for believing this—or, at the very least, naïve.” Anything (within reason) that adds a bit of shock value can be compelling. A cold open that’s surprising or unexpected can convince a skimming reader to slow down and stay longer. (What did this author do that was so unwise?)
3 Reasons Why You Might Consider A Different Approach:
Doesn’t suit the mood or the material. If you’re discussing something complex or even tragic, a cold open might leave your readers confused. Be sure your opening paragraph offers a cohesive, understandable transition to the rest of your content.
Too many words. On a TV show, a cold open is only one or two minutes. Your blog post cold open should be similar: short, self-contained, and to the point. If your narrative drags on, it might be a sign to try something else and use the lengthy cold open idea for a different project—perhaps its own article or a short story or essay.
There’s a better way to grab your reader’s attention. Not every blog post will lend itself to a cold open, so don’t force it. If you’re announcing an event where you’ll be reading your published work, or a podcast you’re appearing on, or a new publication credit in a literary journal, it’s better to get right to the point. Or you might want to start your article with a compelling question, an intriguing statement, or an insightful quote. Appeal to your audience in a way that makes sense and addresses the topic you’re writing about in your blog post.
At Writer’s Relief, we know a thing or two about writing informative, interesting blog posts (like this one!). And we know a lot about helping writers get published! The submission strategists and research experts at Writer’s Relief can help you pinpoint the best markets for your writing and boost your odds of getting an acceptance. Learn more about our services and submit your work to our Review Board today!
Whether you want to take the traditional publishing route or are thinking about self-publishing, we can help. Give us a call, and we will point you in the right direction!
Question: Which element of a cold open do you find most appealing?