What is it?

A narrative listicle tells a single story in multiple slides. It is usually intended to elicit a strong emotional reaction (inspiration, sadness, etc.) 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 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 a good narrative listicle?

  • It’s all about structure and pacing. A great narrative economically splits up a story into emotional highlights, teases future developments and twists with strong CTAs on every slide, and saves the "big twist" or final reveal for later in the slideshow (think, slide 7 for a 10-item list, or slide 10 for a 15-item list, etc.).
  • Things to avoid: Overstuffing with needless filler slides. For instance, a story about a dog doing something surprising for its owner shouldn't begin with 3-6 slides about the history of the particular breed.

Tips for subheads

  • 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.

Tips for copy

  • The copy here should flesh out the subhead with more details or 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.

Tips for images

  • 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.

Tips for CTAs

  • Tease CTA: These should foreshadow future plot twists or developments coming up in the listicle. They should elicit emotions of excitement, suspense and curiosity. Think of them as cliffhangers at the end of an episode of TV. 
  • CTAs should be used in every slide. They can be long and detailed, and should be: teasing future developments is half the copy you’re writing in each slide. A few ways to do this are shown in examples below:
  1. TEASE A FUTURE SLIDE: "She didn't deserve to get sick so young. But that didn't mean she didn't have a few adventures left in her, and a chance encounter that would change her life forever."
  2. TEASE THE NEXT SLIDE: “Her father promised he’d be there, but she understood he was too sick. But then the doors opened and everything changed … “ 
  3. COMBINATION: "But something about Paul was never right. In fact, something terrible in his past (reveal this next slide) may have paved the way for what was ultimately going to happen to him (final twist, for slide 10)..."

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.

NEXT: Viral News Story Best Practices

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