How to Use Fiction Writing Techniques to Level Up Your Content Marketing Game

Stacey Wonder January 27, 2017
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You’ve heard it at least a hundred times, already: quickly evolving technology is changing the game for every industry. Content writing is no exception. Literature and writing have survived for ages, and they’re not likely to go away. The way we write, though, does change.

However, in addition to clickable headlines and scannable blog posts, some of the old rules still apply. For example, storytelling is still an effective way to make your statement. So, let’s look at some fiction techniques that you can use in your content to level up your content marketing game.

Use Foreshadowing to Summon Desire to Engage With Your Web Content

Fiction authors use foreshadowing to reveal hints about upcoming scenes without revealing so much that readers become uninterested. In fact, well-written foreshadowing, in storytelling applications, is compelling and generates curiosity. Here’s how you can use foreshadowing in your blogs and articles.

Content headlines are used in article headlines and subheadings to break apart content. So, your article titles, the main headlines, should entice readers who see them, on your blog main page and social media, to click through and read the rest to find out more.

Subheadings divide your articles into sections, making them easily scannable. With foreshadowing, subheadings can be leveraged as a tool to make readers stop and read what you have to say nes.

Use foreshadowing in headlines and subheadings to make readers thirsty for more.

This could be why fake election news was more popular online, in 2016, than authentic news stories about presidential candidates – The content writers of the fake news masterfully leveraged foreshadowing to make readers want to click, read, and share through foreshadowing.

fake election [Buzzfeed News shares the most popular fake election news headlines of 2016.]

Omg, what did Pope Francis’ statement say? What is Hillary’s other bombshell? By triggering these questions through effective foreshadowing in their article headlines, content writers created articles that went viral on Facebook. So, make sure you’re unfailingly dangling a carrot in front of your readers.

How to Write Exceptionally Helpful Content With the Show, Don’t Tell Method

Writers are constantly advising each other to “show,” not tell. What does this mean, and how you apply it to web content?

  • “John sat on a chair,” is telling.

  • “As John lowered himself into his favorite unwinding spot in the house, that day’s burdens all but disappeared,” is showing.

When you can effectively show, there’s no need to tell.

Applying this technique to content writing isn’t rocket science. Leverage it to keep readers interested. Instead of employing statements like, “This product is amazing,” engage readers with powerful wording such as, “After only seven days, users have seen a 300% increase in the efficiency of X.”

Show Dont Tell [Be more helpful to your web content readers by showing, not just telling.]

You can also “show” with images and video. When paired with a relevant image, retention of information is increased 55%. Additionally, infographics are liked and shared 3X more often than any other type of content on social media. So, when creating online content, provide visualization through writing, images, and video that shows how the product, service, or tactic at hand will benefit your reader.

Flashbacks Aren’t Just Used for Dramatic Impact

In fiction writing, flashbacks are used to add to the drama of a scene or to explain why an event is occurring. They are used in a subtle way, through a change in writing tense (between past and present) from paragraph to paragraph, or as an entire book chapter that takes place in the past. But, they aren’t reserved to literature – you can strategically use them in your web content.

You won’t want to employ this tactic in every single piece of web content you create, at the risk of saturating your website with dated information. Still, flashbacks can get people to check out content you’ve published in the past.

To effectively flashback to content on an external page, provide a summary of what you’re about to present, without sharing the entire point, then link to the content.

Here’s a real example of how to use a content flashback:

You’re going to want to do everything you can to get traffic to your website. There are many methods for doing so – some more efficient than others. Learn how to create both SEO and user-friendly content that keeps readers pouring through the gates with these 9 content writing tactics, published two months ago on MonsterPost.

It’s pretty straightforward. This can also be done by linking to infographics, with a summary and sneak-peek screenshot of what readers will see after clicking-through:

When creating imagery for your content, tools will help you get the job done. Are you trying to decide whether to use Sketch or Photoshop to create compelling images? Helga Morena has already done the research for you and she shared it in this infographic last year.

Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 12.42.03 PM [Flashback to a past infographic on your site to drive traffic with a partial screenshot.]

Try out this tactic in your articles and on social media posts to drive traffic to previously-posted content.


Foreshadowing, “show, don’t tell,” and flashbacks are writing techniques that are traditionally used in fiction writing, but can supercharge your web content. Foreshadowing can make your readers want to engage. The show, don’t tell method can make your message more helpful. Flashbacks can be used to get traffic to content that has been around for awhile. If you can master these techniques, you can take your content marketing to the next level. What other fiction writing strategies have you used for online marketing, if any? Tell us about it in the comments.

Stacey Wonder is a freelancer who likes all things writing. She is now engaged in the Essay Tigers project. Stacey also loves traveling and devouring books.

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