Tabloid Tales

True confessions – I used to read tabloids when I was in university!

Mind you it was only to chill after a round of intense study and essay writing. I reasoned it was okay to waste a few hours on shallow stuff after weeks of self-denial, self-discipline and focus on deep academic stuff.

It became a ritual. After that last exam or intense bout of term papers was over, I’d clean my apartment and then hit the  variety store and grab a copy of every single tabloid on the rack – along with a box of chocolate covered Digestive tea biscuits. Remember those?

I’d come home, brew a pot of Earl Grey, and head over to the sofa where I’d gorge on the biscuits, savour the tea and devour the juicy tabloid talk – all guilt free. I’d earned it, after all, and it wasn’t as if I never read anything more edifying, right?

Tabloid Writing Tips

After long giving up my tabloid habit, I now find myself, in a strange twist of irony, turning to them once more – and, even stranger – this time for content marketing writing tips. See, I recently read some writers’ blogs on how tuning in to tabloid technique can help jazz up your writing style.

One was a hilarious account by Barbara Neil Varma on the Writing World website:

“… I was writing about a new international program in which our agency’s employees taught foreign administrators how to apply our processes to their own countries. It was an interesting topic but my first draft was half asleep. At lunchtime I stopped at the grocery store and spotted a tabloid’s bold headline: “ALIENS ON TOUR! NEXT STOP: EARTH!” It gave me an idea. I snuck the magazine into my office and surreptitiously began to read about the ridiculous. The articles were chock full of juicy verbs, naughty nouns, and, of course, true, eyewitness accounts! Credibility aside, it was fun – and my article on the international program now had a lead: “Next stop: Athens.”

Another was this one by Peter Reilly, himself a former tabloid scribe, called 10 Tabloid tips to better writing.

“The key is short sentences, action verbs, and putting the most important part in the lead – and to never be boring. After all content marketing is about storytelling and telling it in a way that grabs and keeps the reader’s attention. In our digital age where readers’ attention spans are ever decreasing, an interesting story is more likely to keep their attention than a series of facts.”

Learn from the Experts

Nothing like learning from the experts, I figured, so why not try it myself? After all, we writers always gotta improve, right? The only problems is procuring one of those rags … I mean, mags, without anyone knowing.

Sure I could look at them online, but that’s no fun. I want the real deal, something I can hold in my hand, read and make notes in. So I posted an ad on one of those recycle boards (not using my real name, of course), saying I was working on a special project (sort of true) and needed some old tabloids from someone who wanted to get rid of them.

No response.  I move to Plan B – bite the bullet, and buy one at the drug store. Hope no one sees me. Haven’t read one of these in years.

I bring it home. I leaf through it and while getting the latest celeb scoop on the Kardashians, celebrity divorces, hookups, scandals, and upcoming royal wedding, I make notes on style, lexicon, phraseology and technique.

Wow, what an enlightening exercise … all in the name of professional development! Suddenly my writing takes on new life, new vim and vigor. I use punchier words, shorter sentences and get more bang for my writing buck.

Sure pays to have an enquiring mind!