Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Headlines with question marks

Part one in an ongoing series:

Stuff sports writers like

When approaching any story, always begin with the most speculative statement of the article and make it your headline. Keeping in mind this statement is pure speculation, and does not have a source or basis in reality, you can absolve yourself of any legal liability by adding a question mark.

"Sudin to become free agent" (too direct, implies you know a fact)

"Sundin to become free agent?" (perfect! With a question mark, this statement is pitch-perfect and reflects your level of speculation).

Let's try again:

"Spezza on the market" (Awful. Can you back this up?)

"Spezza on the market?" (Nice! No need to speak to anyone now. You've done your research by adding a question mark.)

Or, try using this tip in real life in the subject lines of emails dealing with sensitive topics.

"I'm the father of your child" (No! Your best friend might go into shock and not read the rest of the email)

"I'm the father of your child?" (Great! Now you can be sure he'll read the rest of the email: "But seriously, I'm not. I'll see you at the bar at 8.")

Using this simple tip, you too can become a writer for,, or the Ottawa Sun. Remember, when you've got absolutely nothing to say, just make some shit up and add a question mark.
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