What is it?

Tells a single story split up into multiple slides, usually to elicit either sadness or inspiration in the reader. The goal of the narrative listicle is to keep the reader enticed and wanting to learn more about the story by clicking through to the next slide. A narrative article is like a Netflix series, you want the viewer to keep clicking to the next slide/play the next episode. 

What kinds of topics fit best in this category?

  • Real stories, human interest stories, social stories, viral stories, animal stories, crime stories. Example headlines follow:
  1. Inside The Harrowing Journey Of Elizabeth Smart
  2. This Woman Wanted To Kill Herself - Then She Got A Phone Call
  3. Wolf Shows Up On Man’s Doorstep And Becomes The Town Mascot
  4. Entire School Organizes Shotgun Graduation So Dying Man Can See His Daughter Graduate
  5. She Used A Wheelchair For 12 Years, Until The Day She “Walked” Down The Aisle
  6. This Amputee Set Foot In A Gym For The First Time At 36. Now She’s An Inspiration

What is a reader looking for when they click this?

  • A reader is looking for a full, satisfying story here, and should feel like they do when they walk out of a good movie or watch a season finale of their favorite TV show.

What makes this article successful (i.e, what’s the most important thing you can do)?

  • It’s all about structure. The reader is more likely to finish this kind of slideshow than any other IF the story is broken up the right way. A great Narrative gives enough information on each slide to get the reader to the next one, teases future developments and twists, and economically splits up a story into an easy-to-follow narrative structure. 
  • Things to avoid: Waiting too long to give the reader something to get excited about and stretching a single plot point into multiple slides. Overstuffing with needless slides of context for the story, usually at the beginning.

What kinds of subheads should I write?

  • Subheads here are VERY important, and announce major plot points and twists. In essence, the subhead should act almost like your first sentence, and summarize the main point of the copy that follows.

What kind of copy should I write?

  • The copy here should flesh out the subhead with more details and quotes, as well as tease future plot twists and developments in a CTA. You’ll lose the reader if they don’t feel like they’re getting new and exciting information every time they click to the next slide.

What kinds of images should I use?

  • Usually this kind of story will come with its own images or a video you can screencap from. Images should be dramatic, interesting and high-quality. Consistency is key - do not have an article full of real photos and put an obvious stock photo in the middle of it. That will ruin the reader experience.

What kind of CTA (call to action) should I use?

  • Cliffhanger CTA: CTAs should be used almost every slide (in effect, teasing the next development is half the copy you’re writing in each slide). These should tease future plot twists or developments coming up next, not further down the slideshow, and should elicit emotions of excitement, suspense and curiosity. What is going to make the reader click to see the next episode? E.g.,
  1. “She thought that was that, until she got a phone call the next day … “ 
  2. “Her father promised he’d be there, but she understood he was too sick. But then the doors opened and everything changed … “ 

Assignment details

  • A Narrative listicle is considered an in-depth article. These should be between 10 and 20 slides, with an intro of 50-100 words and slide copy of 50-100 words.
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