How-to: write a listicle
‘Listicle’ is one of those words where you say it, and people are like ‘Huh?’, and then you tell them what a listicle is and they’re like, ‘Oh I know what those are.’ Anyway.
Listicle is the term used to describe an article that is presented in the form of a list (and is actually a combination of the words ‘list’ and ‘article’). Think about the stuff you read on Buzzfeed and Snapchat – articles like ‘My top 10 reads of all time’ or ‘5 reasons Pidwidgeon is the unsung hero of the Harry Potter series’ (can someone actually please write this). Listicles are organised around a theme, are usually not super heavy on the writing front, and use lotsssss of gifs and images to get their point across. They’re often funny and light-hearted, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be serious or emotional.
Below is a step-by-step guide to writing your own listicle. If you go forth and create one after this, make sure to post a link to your listicle in the comments section so we can marvel at your work!!
1. Choose your topic or theme
An obvious first step, maybe, but I have some pointers. To make your listicle stand out, you need try to get the most interesting angle out of the topic you want to explore. There are a lot of listicles out there in the world, so having a new or different angle is important to get people clicking on your post.
Say you want to write a listicle on contemporary YA novels. Instead of just posting ‘10 Contemporary YA Novels You Should Read’, you could think about particular aspects of the books you’re listing that make them interesting or suitable for certain readers. For example, you could write ’10 Contemporary YA Novels You Should Read If You Love Riverdale’. This lets readers’ know your listicle is going to be different and more interesting from the rest, making it way more likely they’ll click on it.
2. Work out how many sub-headings or points your listicle is going to have
It’s up to you how long your listicle is, but to avoid the dreaded TL;DR, I think a listicle should be a little snappy. Not many readers are going to stick out a listicle that has fifty items in its list. If you would like to write a listicle that is a little long though (say you want to create a listicle of every book you read in 2017), a way of keeping your reader all the way to the end is to keep the sentences underneath every point minimal. I for one love reading somebody’s year-long reading habits (please, tell me yours), but a listicle like this always works best for me when the writer keeps their description of the books to one or two sentences only.
By the same token, if you’re writing a listicle with only five points to it, or not many at all, you’ll probably want your explanation to be a little longer. Try to make sure your points are as specific as possible, so the points don’t read as too similar for your fellow bookworms. However if you’re giving book recommendations in a list form, you can simply name the title of the book and the author.
3. Write an introductory paragraph
A few opening sentences are an opportunity to talk about you, and why you decided to write the listicle in the first place. A reader always needs a bit of guidance – what is going on in the world that motivated you to think, ‘The world could really do with this listicle.’ Anyway, I wouldn’t spend too long here – most people have clicked on your post because they want to get to the good stuff (the listicle)! But writing is always a little more shiny when we hear a bit of your personality, too.
4. Cover your listicle in gifs
Okay, you don’t have to do this. But most people do. Choosing gifs to go with your points is a lot of fun (take it from me), but remember they shouldn’t be completely random.
The gifs should add value by either reinforcing your points or adding some humour. Giphy is a super good site to find the perfect gifs.
Listicles are heaps of fun. They are fun to read and fun to create. They let you get your opinions across in a way that is simple and engaging. Finally, I think one of the reasons Pidwidgeon is the unsung hero of the Harry Potter series is because of the moment Ron allows Crookshanks to sniff Pidwidgeon to prove the owl really is an owl. This is an important moment in Ron’s relationship not only with Crookshanks, but also Hermione, and we all know how that ends up.