Dying Trees and Children’s Books

Hi. I’m Autumn, and I’m obsessed with nature.

Cue the “Hi, Autumns!!!”

I mean, my name is Autumn. How could I not love nature, right?

While I might be keen on plants, I don’t have a green thumb.

8 years ago, I bought a half-dead river birch tree from Home Depot’s clearance section.

It stood about 2 feet tall and only had 10 leaves on 1 branch. But I decided to play Mother Nature and nurture the little tree back to health.

I took it home, dug a big hole in my front yard, and planted it.

I watered it and fed it every nutrient I could find on Google. And I hoped for the best.

This went on for 2 years, but those same 10 leaves on that same puny branch were the only vegetation that grew.

Eventually, I got mad — I spat and sputtered about how it refused to grow. I even threatened to uproot it and throw it away.

A few weeks later, the dank 11-acre swamp that sits close to my backyard broke over its banks and flooded my entire street. My home was a total loss.

But that half-dead river birch tree loved the dirty, filthy swamp water. And it doubled in size a month later.

The following year, every single one of those tree’s branches was covered in lush, green leaves.

I never threatened to uproot it again.

Mother Nature flexed her leafy muscles and reminded me that she’s the expert.

But there’s an upside to every situation. I thought I could turn my terrible tree story into a children’s book.

So I wrote and illustrated every page. I made sure the message was clear and the pictures were cute.

But I didn’t have a title for my children’s book.

I couldn’t think of a title at all. All I could think of were headlines.

“Dying tree thrives after devastating flood.”

It’s intriguing like the six-word story — For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.

But that’s not going to work for a children’s book. It sounds more like it belongs to a newspaper article or a blog post.

So I gave up on writing that children’s book. But I haven’t given up on my turning my thumb green. And I don’t threaten to dispose of half-dead plants anymore.

Here’s my current save from the clearance section’s dying plants. We’ll see how long it lives.

Want to intrigue your readers with six-word story headlines?

You’ve gotta get concise. You’ve gotta 1 line your story. You’ve gotta imagine you’re telling it via text message. (Thanks, Erika!)

Here’s my favorite formula:

Noun —> Verb —> Outcome

But here’s the secret to this formula… you have to write your copy first. Because you’re just pulling words that you’ve already written and plugging them into the formula.

Give this copy edit tip a try the next time you want to intrigue your readers with a six-word story headline. They’ll love it.

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