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Don’t waste time warming up when writing for online audiences. Get started straight away.

Readers are busy. They scan text looking for meaning and they want it fast. Other writing competes for their attention and it is only a click away.

Your first paragraph should summarise the entire story in less than 40 words. A 30-word intro is better. And make sure those words aren’t all in one sentence.

Don’t overload the first paragraph with too many facts. Save details for later.

Move straight to the action. Passive first sentences send readers fleeing for the exit.

Online, opening words are often a teaser to lure readers. If Google indexed your story, the first 150 characters become the descriptive text telling people what to expect when they click the link.

If you struggle to write short, snappy first paragraphs, imagine you are writing a tweet. Twitter’s 140-word word limit is excellent training for writing introductions.

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