Why bury the gobsmacking one liner?

Vanguard Online May 2, 2015 3

When you read a music review its often the case that you read through, and its not always the most exciting thing to read, but then ploughing your way through you suddenly come across a line that smacks you right in the gob!

In a nice way.

And you think “My God! If I’d read that earlier on, if anyone had read that earlier on I would have been hooked!”

Its a common practice for writers to bury the gobsmacking conclusion or one liner in the middle of their article.

Whether its down to laziness or inexperience, or a lack of ability to empathise with the reader its difficult to say.

Often the gobsmacker comes in the middle of the article because their article is a flow of consciousness kind of thing – and the real insight they reached did not arrive until half-way through the writing process.

Sometimes its because people have wanted to relive their experience of the gig chronologically – and the gobsmacking conclusion is provided only after that experience has been described.

If you draft your articles, on one of the redrafts I recommend looking through for the gobsmacking conclusion or one liner.

Take it. Use it as the title of your article. Start your article with it. Then build the rest of the article around it. 

That is to say: Once you’ve written your article, put the gobsmacking conclusion at the top and rewrite it, so the whole article is in defence of your conclusion

I’ve been looking through Vanguard Online articles: here are some examples of gobsmacking conclusions buried in the middle of the review:




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  1. Jordan Stockill May 3, 2015 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    I think putting the one liner within the title of article runs the risk of having too many over-used cliches to try and get the attention of readers. The DIY Magazine website do this on some of their live reviews (though surprisingly inconsistently). Example: “Future Islands rock out the Roundhouse”. This is kind of boring and doesn’t really make me want to read the review any more than a generic title.

    For me, what’s more interesting is the excerpts that they put underneath all their reviews: “No matter how many times you watch him, it’s always glorious.” This is a compelling sentence and DOES make me want to read the article!

    We can do this on VO via the WordPress editor by going to screen options, then ticking ‘excerpt’ and adding one in the box that appears towards the bottom of the edit page. This then shows up on the featured stories on the homepage (check out my Flying Lotus post on the slideshow). Maybe it’s worth thinking about how the excerpts can be made more prominent on the homepage, and then encouraging writers to copy and paste that all-encompassing ‘one liner’ into the excerpt box when adding a new post?

    • Vanguard Online May 3, 2015 at 5:59 pm - Reply

      I accept the point that it might be we use an excerpt which is contained under the title – rather than the title itself.

      And sure, by definition, over-used cliches are not what’s wanted here.

      It is of course easy too just hype up the headline, or selling point.

      I think its about putting your finger on something quintessential about the gig – that requires real insight and a good use of the English language – that makes it interesting to someone who knows nothing of the band – to someone who has no real interest in music.

    • Vanguard Online May 3, 2015 at 6:03 pm - Reply

      And I agree that using Word Press Editor to insert an excerpt could be a useful way forward here.

      So we need to address Jordan’s question:

      How can the excerpts be made more prominent on the homepage, so that writers can copy and paste that all-encompassing ‘one liner’ into the excerpt box when adding a new post?

      Which brings me on to another question, does anyone know of anyone out there in the world, who has a specialised interest in designing wordpress sites, and who might want a bit of unpaid experience developing Vanguard Online?

      I need someone who can show a bit of commitment, maybe a 6 month minimum, and someone with a huge amount of passion and hunger for the techie side of things….

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