What is it all about?
There is a popular article format – “cards”. It was first popularized by the American portal Vox, and then picked up by Meduza. Readers love it very much for its simplicity and clarity, so many authors try to write flashcards. But not everyone succeeds.
Why doesn’t it work?
Because most card writers don’t know the top secret. The cards are not just an article with a bunch of subheadings in the form of questions, but a real dialogue. You can imagine a conversation on the phone or a live conversation at the reception desk of a polyclinic or a railway ticket office.
In such a dialogue, there are two characters: the Questioner and the Answer.
The questioner is probably asking?
That’s right, this is such an avatar of the reader. The Questioner has a problem or situation and asks important questions about it to the experienced Responder. The questioner is a simple person, such a typical aged relative. He is used to not trusting, asks questions with pressure, sometimes rudely. Such a person will not let himself be fooled!
The respondent, on the contrary, is polite, knowledgeable, accurate. They say about such people: “Sincerely wants to help.”
Wait, why is the Questioner coming over? Why isn’t it okay to write everything in the same style?
Because the reader needs to see that the conversation between them is not staged. If there is no tension in the dialogue between the Questioner and the Answer, then you cannot believe such cards. It seems that both the questions and the answers were written by one person. But you can’t ask yourself sharp questions, right?
Here is a good example – the cards about the renovation program on the mos.ru portal . And then there is such a question: “Is it possible for an additional fee to purchase an apartment with a larger number of rooms and a larger area than the one that will be provided free of charge?” What is the feeling of such a question?
Some kind of set-up! How can an ordinary person speak so hard?
Of course not. Before us is something like a press conference, at which the answering official wrote questions to himself and distributed them to the journalists in the hall. If such a question is made in the style of the Questioner, simpler, more lively, “folk”, then it will sound better.
For example, like this: “We have a big family, and we hardly huddle in Khrushchev. Can’t we move to a bigger apartment, even with our surcharge? ” Note that behind such a question you directly feel a real person.
Okay, sorted it out. What else is important in the cards? What other secrets are there?
Another important detail is in the construction of the questions. First of all, they shouldn’t be long (like a question on mos.ru). Longer questions are best broken into two sentences. The first can be affirmative, as if setting a context. And the second is a question.
It is also better to use open-ended questions in cards (they begin with an interrogative word). A closed question can be answered “yes” or “no”, and an open question implies a detailed answer. What we need!
And can you just cram more headings-questions into a regular article?
No, this will not work – there is no magic! The magic lies in the fact that each next question follows from the previous answer. The Questioner asks a question, the Answer gives him 2-3 paragraphs of text, and the Questioner, as it were, continues to clarify the answer received. People do the same in dialogue when it comes to information that is new to them.
If you put headings-questions in a regular article, then the reader will have a persistent feeling that they arise out of nowhere. And this again hits trust: why are you asking if you know what?
OK. How many of these cards should there be in the article?
Ideally 10-12 pieces. It can be smaller (if the topic is very narrow), but more is not worth it. The fact is that the reader runs into the cards to quickly find out the main thing about a particular case: how to go on a train with a cat, whether it is worth getting vaccinated, if there are still antibodies, what to do if the shoes are too tight and the box has already been thrown away. In large texts, the reader gets bogged down, loses focus and gets tired of reading, so it is better to leave a decent article as an article.
It is also better for the respondent to give no more than two or three paragraphs. As much as one person can speak in a dialogue, leave as much. Otherwise, the monologue of John Gault from “Atlas Shrugged” will turn out in the style of “he entered the elevator, turned and said 78 pages.”
And why does Meduza’s articles all begin with the question “What are we talking about?”
Oh, this is called “zero card”. The fact is that the cards do not write the traditional introduction and immediately start with a question. Meduza is a news media, so the zero card relies on an event or context. You can imagine that on the street several people are arguing loudly and a passer-by walking by comes up to them: “Guys, what are you talking about?”
In general, the zero card can be anything. It is very convenient to describe the situation in it, as we do it in the information desk: “I have a cat, and I really want to teach him tricks. Is it possible? ” – or: “I want to be vaccinated, but I’m afraid of side effects. Do they really happen or am I being driven? “
So to write good flashcards, you have to maintain tension, ask open-ended questions, and be short?
Right! Well, or short – it is better to ask questions in a gender-neutral tone so that the reader does not get the impression that everything is written by a man for men (or a woman for women).
The main thing is to imagine the dialogue in the help desk. If your cards can be a transcript of such a dialogue, then everything worked out. Congratulations!