True confession -- I am a sucker for stories and blog posts that feature lists. Tell me four ways to change my life, nine ways to work more complex carbs into my diet, even eight ways to do a handstand and you have one very dedicated reader.
I find that I cannot not read these stories, and the best purveyor of this deceptively simple idea has to be mindbodygreen.com. Every day, I get multiple emails from this holistic news service and I pretty much read every one. Why? Because they've mastered the list concept! Here is just a sample of some of the stories I've fallen prey to:
-- 12 things I would say to my 20-something self!
-- 5 awesome exercises for a 30-minute fat burning workout!
-- 5 ways to kiss your coffee habit goodbye!
So herewith are the 7 reasons why I love these 'lists' stories:
1. They are easy to read. Sometimes, you only need to read the boldfaced bullets to understand the entire article.
2. They boil things down dammit! Does everything have to be so complicated? Hey NY Times, give me the 7 reasons why Iran sucks, okay?! I don't want to read your 50,000 word treatise, or your back and forth arguments. Boil it down, Mr. Editor!
3. Almost all newspaper stories are overwritten. If you don't "get" the story after reading the first six paragraphs, you should move on because the writer did a shitty job.
4. The eye likes reading short paragraphs and lists. Dense prose, not so much.
5. If someone in authority (a writer!) is ready to give me 7 ways to live a better life, then who am I to question him? Please, give me your knowledge.
6. These are stories that scream SOLUTION! It's so easy to become a brain surgeon -- just follow these 9 steps and you're there!
7. I can really only think of 6 reasons but, when writing this type of story, you should aim for an odd number. It's just more believable.