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Any long read, if it does not consist only of personal experience, should be based on sources – usually, they are other publications, documents, or books.
- Always check the reliability of a particular source. If you have not previously encountered the name of a site or publication, then before using information about it, at least google it or go to the “About the project” section to assess its authority. Do not take information from sources that arouse suspicion․ Use only reliable websites, where the information found will become a source of useful income for you, the WordPress newsletter plugins help you make the most of this effective performance .
- Check if the information you need is in another source. If not, it makes you wary and think twice before relying on a fact that is reported only in one place: why is this not written anywhere else, if it is interesting?
- Always cite the original source, not a reprint from another media outlet (if a paywalled source is not available to you, please cite both that source and the outlet where you found the information). Your text’s more references to different sources, the more credibility it inspires. Do not forget to check the functionality of links – if there is a high probability that important information for the material may soon be deleted.If you are using information that you gleaned from a documentary, look for a link to it on YouTube or other public hosting sites. If it is not there, then refer to it in the text, simply indicating the name;
- A similar rule works if you use information from books – give a link to its electronic version (if it is in the public domain in the same Google Books or you can buy it somewhere legally) or indicate its name and author;
- Never use one source when writing a long read (only if it is not a retelling of a separate text), and do not retell well-known facts, referring to Wikipedia (articles from there are not a source, as these are collections of links to sources). You always have to look for details in different places – and the story becomes more interesting.
The structure is an important part of working on a long read. How much time you devote to it depends on the popularity of your material, the reaction of readers, and the likelihood that TJ’s editors will bring it to their social networks to increase coverage.
The heading is the main element of any text. It should contain the essence of the topic that will be discussed. An interesting headline may contain a conflict, interesting facts, a remarkable quote, or a catchy phrase. It is impossible to fit everything together, but this is not required. The main thing is that the title does not use hackneyed and banal wording: this is a sign of a lazy or unprofessional author.
The subtitle is another important piece of content. On TJ, this is the name of the first block of text that is shown in the main feed. The subtitle is most often used for two purposes: to complement the title and to briefly reveal the essence of the material (in the editorial board we call them “zag + sub zag bundle”). Try to keep the subtitle no longer than one or two lines (on desktop). So it will look better on the main page, and the audience will definitely read it.
The cover is the third element that becomes the “face” of the material. This is what we call the media element (photo, gif, video). It is also displayed in the feed by clicking on the “gear” in the editor, and if the author did not select anything, then when publishing the material, the first media element in the material will become the cover (so make sure that it will not be some kind of hard-to-read screenshot) By “body” it meant the main part of the material, where you reveal the points described in the lead. First, you introduce readers to the main characters of the story and describe the conflict in detail, then move on to reveal important, but less interesting, subtleties of the story.
Remember – the peculiarity of a long read is that it can consist of any content. Feel free to experiment.
- Text: expert comments, opposing views on the problem, eyewitness accounts, historical references, scientific facts;
- Photos, screenshots, video, and audio (audio recording can be uploaded directly to the site through a special player);
- And so on. The main thing is that all this complements and develops the history of the long read, and not only serves as a way to entertain the reader.
Introduction in longreads (journalists call it “lead”) can be compared with the same section in the thesis or email message (you can see what email marketing will look like in the future.) The lead plays the role of the content of the article, in which you briefly (no more than two or three paragraphs) reveal the relevance of the topic (why are you writing about it now) and give the main theses of the story.
A few more design tips;
- Use quotation marks in the text – “Christmas trees” – others, most often, do not fit. Likewise with the em dash. To put the necessary signs, the easiest way is to download the typographic layout of Ilya Birman;
- Do not use bold and italics within the text. From them, the material visually becomes only “dirtier”. Usually, the editors have to clean up all the highlights in order to bring the text into a readable form;
- Tweets, photos, YouTube videos, and Instagram posts can be placed in a story by simply pasting a link to them in an empty editor field. But do not insert tweets with obscenities – it is better to take a screenshot and cover it carefully;
Longread wins back the information space. Even social networks, which got us hooked on the short format, are introducing functionality for storytelling with might and main. A new concept has appeared – a commercial longread. Many today believe that longread is the best format for long-term investment in content.