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Please begin with an informative title:

By popular request in comment threads and emails, I'll be putting together a Saturday digest of election-oriented diaries from now until November. This project emerged from the Community Power! Election Season diary written Feb. 20. Next week I'll introduce you to a couple of other Kossacks who will be joining me in running the project.

Each digest will include a list of election diaries published during the previous week and categorized by region. A separate section will include diaries written in the previous week by incumbents, new candidates and wannabe candidates. (Diaries by incumbents may or may not be directly related to the coming elections.)

Digests will also focus on a few tips for making diaries more persuasive, informative and written in a way that encourages everyone to read them even if they live 2000 miles away from the spotlighted contest. This week, we're talking headlines.

Just as with a story in a newspaper or magazine, a headline can make or break a diary. That is, you can attract an audience or drive it away by the words and structure you choose. Crafting great headlines is something even some of the best writers never quite get the knack of, but everybody can train themselves to become better at it. Too many writers spend hours on research and writing their diaries, then slap on a 30-second headline. Spend some time at it. A good practice is to write three or four possible headlines and choose the best one. Happily for bloggers, some of the old rules from the old media – like character counts – don't apply in wwwLand. But some do. Here are 10 guidelines to think about:

• Headlines are bait. Instill curiosity: "Paternity Test Demanded for Florida Abstinence Campaigner"; "Voters Eager to Punish Liberals, Selves"

• Conversational headlines appeal to the most readers.

• Use the active voice. Good verbs work wonders. "To be" conjugations bore readers.

• There's power in humor, but serious stories suffer from overly cute headlines. Headlines with a twist of an old cliché reel in readers. But take care not to twist too far.

• Beware. Double entendres can help or hurt. "Cops Pinch Lewd Nude" works; however, "Clinton Wins Budget; More Lies Ahead" has problems.

• Be succinct. Short headlines are punchier and easier to read. Ernest Hemingway told a whole story once in six words - "For sale: baby shoes, never used." A helluva good headline, too.

• Match the headline to the story. Don't deceive. Nobody likes being taken for a fool.

• If the diary is about a candidate, the candidate's and/or district's name should usually appear in the headline.

• DON'T WRITE HEADLINES IN ALL CAPS. Besides "shouting," they are hard to read.

• If it's not BREAKING! don't lie about it.

From this week's collection of election diaries, I've picked what I think are four solid headlines. But even most of them could be tweaked:

NY-Sen: GOP eyes notorious Bush war-flack Dan Senor. (Perfect)

Sen. Richard Burr: Playing Politics in Right Field. (N.C. Sen. Richard Burr: Playing Politics in Right Field)

A call to Netroots - There's a Dem willing to fight against DeMint. (Calling the Netroots - There's a Dem willing to fight DeMint)

Is it all about the Benjamins? The GOP primary for governor in Wisconsin. (Is it all about the Benjamins? In Wisconsin's GOP primary, yes)

The election digest follows below.


You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).


psykat: 2010: Georgia's 82nd Governor - a primer

dantilson: Charlie Crist's State Of Confusion

turnover: FL-Sen: Manscaping!

sdf: PPP puts Meek only 5 behind Rubio (44-39)

SemDem: CALL to Action! Tell Kosmas (FL-24) to Act like a DEMOCRAT!

ekimsitruc: Bill Halter for Senate

v2aggie2: Bill Halter vs. Blanche Lincoln -- A view from a roughly local perspective (the Ark-La-Tex Region)

mark louis: More Hypocrisy From Blanche Lincoln

Jamie Sanderson: A call to Netroots - There's a Dem willing to fight against DeMint

alpoltics: Follow the Lead in Arkansas - Continue the 50 State Strategy

Caban: TN-3 US House District Race(Should I Run)

Mike Nellis: Sen. Richard Burr: Playing Politics in Right Field

The Border States

ekyprogressive: Poll Shows Democrats Close To Taking Senator Jim Bunning's Seat From Rand Paul. One Percent Off.

The Northeast

AdamSmithsInvisibleFinger: 'Draft Rachel Maddow' Movement Takes a New Twist.

Frederick Clarkson: MA-Sen: Rachel Maddow in 2012? Part 3

Flaming Liberal for Jesus: PA-Sen: My Response to the Front Page Poll

Flaming Liberal for Jesus: PA-Sen: There are Now 3 Candidates

Flaming Liberal for Jesus: PA-Sen: My Response to the Front Page Poll

devtob:  NY-Sen: GOP eyes notorious Bush war-flack Dan Senor

devtob: NY-Sen: Why is Bloomberg campaigning against Gillibrand?

The Heartland

Stranded Wind: Now Firing: Stupak AND Pitts

Jeffrey Feldman: SALTONSTALL TO PRIMARY STUPAK - (Help $$$)

Eclectablog: Before you pillory Bart Stupak...

downwithtyranny: Help Connie Saltonstall Defeat Stupak

Brainwrap: MI-01: Bye, Bye, Bart!! Stupak Challenger Saltonstall's campaign ramping up

Texas Fish: We can do better than $831. Send Stupak a message.

Reading on Walden Bookstore: Obama's old Senate seat must remain in Democratic hands

DanK Is Back: OH-Sen: I met Lee Fisher Today

pistolSO: The Ohio Senate Candidates on Jobs

pistolSO: OH-Sen: Brunner, Fisher and Portman on Choice & Afghanistan and More on Fisher..

americandad:  Is it all about the Benjamins? The GOP primary for governor in Wisconsin

The Mountain States and the Southwest

RodneyGlassman: AZ-SEN Grijalva Lends His Support and Encouragement

clammyc: Help one of our own community members "Crash the Gate"

The Left Coast

Sarea: Meg Whitman - HUGE PR SNAFU

Incumbents and Candidates in Their Own Words

Alan Grayson: HR 4789 & The Public Option: The Way Forward

marcy winograd: Woozles for Winograd and Winograd for Woozles!

Chairman George Miller: Include Student Loan Reform in Reconciliation

SenatorTomUdall: The Will to Fix Senate Rules

Craig Pridemore for Congress: WA-03: GOP says I'm undecided on health care. No, I'm not.

Ptolemy: Should I primary Mike Capuano (MA-08)?

johnjgraff: Why I decided now is the time to run for office

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Mar 13, 2010 at 01:00 PM PST.

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