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When Not to Use Anecdotes in Content Writing

anecdotes in content

Some writers like to use anecdotes in content writing to prove a point, strengthen their story, or to give the article a bit of personal touch. Anecdotes can be effective when used correctly, but that does not mean you should use them frequently. They should be just one of many tools that you use to write strong web content.

So what exactly are anecdotes and how can they be used when writing content? Anecdotes can be described as interesting, quirky examples that expound upon an amusing situation or event that you or someone else has experienced in a "real life" situation in the past.

Staying Credible

Though anecdotes may be useful when writing creative pieces, creating content for the web requires a different strategy. Though they may emotionally strengthen your article, anecdotes can weaken your article on the whole. They are less reliable than citable sources, and individual situations cannot universally represent an argument or idea with accuracy.

Internet content is not always the most reliable source for information. Whether it means writing an online encyclopedia article or creating a personal blog, almost anyone can write for the web. In order to write content that stands out and is accurate, make sure you frame your article using reliable sources and then frame your anecdotes around those specific sources.

Some people may find anecdotes useful in trying to relate to the information that you present, but they are not considered to be legitimate evidence with which to make an argument. Including an anecdote in yours will likely not give people the impression that your article is especially accurate.

Staying Focused

Some writers will use anecdotes on a whim, whether it pertains to their article or not. If you must use an anecdote make sure you choose one that fits neatly with your argument or point. The purpose of using an anecdote is to give your readers a more visual representation of the real world application of your argument. So keep your anecdotes reality based and relevant.

Though your anecdotal story may be interesting, that does not mean that it will benefit your writing. If you are questioning the validity of placing an anecdote in your article, then your readers are likely asking the same question. Keep your content focused and avoid tangential stories, which may confuse or frustrate your readers.

Also try to make sure that your anecdote never proves the opposite point that you are trying to make. This may seem like a moot statement, but that does not mean that it does not happen. Make sure any anecdotes support your argument, not the other sides. You do not want to use your own rhetoric to disintegrate your stance.

Keep Your Main Objective in Mind

An anecdote should never drive your article. If the most effective content in your article is your anecdote, you may want to consider starting over or heavily revising. You may even consider removing the anecdote completely in this situation to better maintain your article's validity.

Relying too much on anecdotes may get you in trouble, as your readers may not find them as helpful as you do. Though people may not necessarily be offended by a story you present, that does not mean that they will not perhaps find the story irrelevant or tangential. In order to maintain readership, keep your content informative and interesting.

Though they can provide a nice break from gobs of information, anecdotes should serve to supplement your content not dictate it. Maintain control over your article using grounded facts and use anecdotes sparingly to keep your audience interested. If your article seems flat or uninteresting, spark it up with a little bit of narrative. People will always enjoy a good story, especially if you can use one to prove a point.

Mike Quayle

Posted on 11th January, 2011 by Mike Quayle

About Mike Quayle

Mike Quayle is a SEO, content writer, and marketer from Seattle, Washington.

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