With the upcoming release of Theros Beyond Death, I'm taking a break from budget decks to bring more advice and best practices for writing Magic: The Gathering content. Over the next few weeks, I expect Theros Beyond Death prices to level out once there is more circulation of the cards, so there will be budget content in due course. I'm excited to see what enchantment-focused decks we'll be able to brew in Pioneer and Modern.
For now, let's dive into article structure and best writing practices. The bones of your content—the title, sections and flow—need to be solid enough to support all of your ideas, or your readers won't take the time to absorb them. I recommend reading the previous parts of Beginner's Guide to Writing Magic Content before proceeding, to refresh your memory.
|Beginner's Guide to Writing Magic Content|
There is no right or wrong answer on this question, as it's variable on what you are writing about, and how thorough you want to be. At a minimum, you are likely to need at least 500 words, which should offer enough depth to be informative and helpful depending on the topic. There may be a few subjects which warrant longer posts; for example, creating a sideboard guide for Modern Grixis Death's Shadow may be more long-drawn than a typical post. With this, it isn't uncommon to see posts weigh up to around 2,000 words or more providing you aren't rambling and the information is present.
On average, posts tend to be around the 700-1200 word count which is fairly standard when it comes to content writing. However, don't fixate on the word count, as it isn't the ideal measurement for a decent article—it's all about quality over quantity. However, if you have the intention of writing a longer post, structuring it effectively is even more crucial if you want to hold the reader's attention. There are a few tricks you can use to keep readers engaged.
Large walls of text don't complement well within blog posts, as readers are more likely to disengage at the sight of too much writing. The first method is to attempt shorter paragraphs of two or three sentences, and using bullet points could work effectively also. Going back to the Grixis Death's Shadow sideboard guide concept, instead of writing a wall of text of what to take out against Amulet Titan, for example, we can break it down to make it more digestible for the reader. For example:
After breaking down the sideboard plan, you can write a small summary in a few sentences of what you are looking to achieve in the matchup. In this instance, it would be focusing on removing Amulet of Vigor and countering any big threats found with Summoner's Pact. It's important to make sideboard guides streamlined and informative; even hyperlinking the cards to Gatherer or Scryfall could help players understand what cards do if you go with this method.
Additionally, if you want to offer more engagement, you can simply use the card images instead of writing the cards out. For example:
This suggestion is more attractive as you are using images to not only break up the text but to offer digestible information, and not worrying about hyperlinking—which you can incorporate into your content regardless if you want to. However, even if you're not writing a sideboard guide, using images to break up your posts is a great technique to keep your readers interested. With my first post in creating written content, I used images relevant to my topic to offer breathing space for my readers. I became aware that the article was becoming very dense with paragraphs, so I used images to break up the article so my readers maintained their engagement. Don't go too crazy on images as you do not want to overload your readers either, adding two or three images is enough.
When placing your images, remember that they may appear differently on smartphone screens; placement to the left or right with the text wrapping round may not work on a smaller screen, so keep this in mind if you're referring to "the photo on the left," for example. Checking your posts on a desktop as well as a smartphone will remove the issue as you don't want your readers to be switched off by your content if it doesn't look right! This is why I suggest platforms such as Wordpress and Tumblr, as these remove the problem as they both have desktop and mobile versions.
Lastly, if you feel your article is too long, you can always break it up into parts as I have done with this series. There are several benefits to this path:
Ultimately, this all boils down to what you are looking to write about and how deep you want to go, but you don't need to publish it all at once in a huge article.
Writing smaller and more concise paragraphs means we can also utilize headings to break up our content to be more appealing. This makes scrolling through your articles easier, especially if your reader is after one particular aspect of your article. For example, if you are looking to write an article about Korvold, Fae-Cursed King in Commander, you could break it up by offering subheadings on the card types such as Creatures, Lands, Spells and so forth. If the reader is only interested in the Lands, this allows an accessible route for them to find the information they are after without necessarily having to read the whole post.
The title of your article is what will make readers click to read more, so it's worth taking a little time to figure this out. It doesn't need to be overly dramatic or clickbaity as this may discourage your audience, but it should offer an accurate representation of the article. There is nothing wrong with adding a little charm or humor—for example, I added a play on words when writing about Budget Modern Affinity, using a phrase from the Transformers. Adding a bit of personality is a nice approach as it broadcasts that you are human, which may sound weird but plenty of emotion can be missed online so it's good to incorporate this into your content.
Overall, the title of your article should pique the reader's curiosity while proposing a reasonable expectation of what your article is. Some websites offer a snippet which is a small summarization of what your article is to compliment the title. Snippets should ideally contain a call to action if there's enough room, an example being:
Snippets don't need to be fancy or complicated, they simply need to give an idea to what your article is outside of what the header already explains. Additionally, snippets transfer well into social media as you can use your snippet as a Tweet for your article, if you want that additional reach. By adding accuracy to your snippets and titles, you are increasing the rate by which your content is searched on the internet which generates more eyes on your work.
Incorporating links into your work can help illustrate points or offer information that may be beyond the reach of your article. For example, I have added links throughout this article as references to the points I am making. By doing this, it gives your previous work some reach and opens the door for readers to read your older works, which they may have missed upon first time of publishing. There is no harm linking other content creators' work, especially if your piece is opinion-based, and affiliating with other creators is a great approach to grow your brand. Once again, don't go too crazy as aggressively advertising other creators' work which will shift the focus from you, and it can demonstrate a lack of confidence in your own work if you are linking other works all the time.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter. I am more than happy to help any of you who want advice, proof-reading or any help with regards to creating Magic: The Gathering content. In addition, please don't hesitate to reach out if there's anything else in this series you would like to see from me. This series is for you, so any feedback is greatly appreciated!