By Vie Herlocker
Evergreen: Relevant and FreshBloggers and web content writers know that “writing evergreen” helps raise their search engine ratings and pull readers to their site. Like a cedar that stays fresh all year, evergreen writing feels like it was just written, even when it’s months or years old. Evergreen topics are always current as opposed to news articles that come and go. You’ve no doubt noticed the rack magazines at the grocery stores are nearly predictable with self-help and how-to stories. That’s evergreen.
and articles are considered evergreen when they:
- are not tied to a particular time and
- remain relevant to the reader over an extended period.
But what if you are writing a nonfiction book—or a memoir? By writing evergreen, you can keep your book relevant over time—and drive readers to purchase it long after it’s published. Years before the web became a platform for writers, one of my mentors, Cec Murphey, taught me a simple secret for making dated information evergreen: use description that will continue to be true, no matter when the text is read.
Let’s look at these three examples of dated text I found in books I’ve edited—and the simple fixes:
- In a book about the Boy Scout Oath and Law, which released the year of BSA’s one-hundredth anniversary, the author made several references to one hundred years ago. But that reference would be outdated the second year the book was out. By simply changing those one-hundred-year references to the actual date, 1910, that Baden Powell started Boy Scouts in America, the content moved from dated to evergreen.
- In a memoir, an author had this sentence on his back cover draft: “Twenty-five years ago, Chris Harvey paused from studying for final exams to talk to his college housemate. Gunshots interrupted their conversation…” Well, Chris is still selling his book as he speaks to groups about being shot in the head and instantly blinded for life. But the “twenty-five years ago” referred to 1980, not twenty-five years subtracted from the current year. By simply adding the year, “In 1980, Chris Harvey…” we move to evergreen.
- In another manuscript, the author beautifully related a God-lesson from a nature walk. The draft referred to “when I took my walk yesterday.” While this was an accurate statement when she wrote it, by simply rewording, “One day as I walked,” the material moves to evergreen.
there ever situations appropriate to include a current time or age in a book? Possibly,
but often you’ll see a qualifier, like “at the time I am writing this…” Instead,
an evergreen writer might state “when Johnnie was six” rather than, “my
Happy writing! Have you seen anything in books that dates them? I’d love to read your examples in the comments.
(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net, Stuart Miles, and nunawwoofy.)
Vie Herlocker is associate editor for Surry Living Magazine, Mt. Airy, NC. Her experience includes editing for a small, traditional Christian publisher and reviewing for Blue Ink Reviews. She is a member of Christian Editor Connection, Christian PEN, ACFW, ACW, and WordWeavers.