Thursday, December 11, 2008

Grabbing The Reader's Attention

"An effective narrative hook promises a compelling story populated with fascinating characters." -- William G. Tapply in The Elements of Mystery Fiction
The opening is the part of a story I work on the hardest. I want the reader to have an idea of what’s going on in either the first sentence, or by the end of the first paragraph. As a reader, I dislike stories that don’t do this. I’ve stopped reading short stories after two or three paragraphs if I didn’t feel I knew enough about the main character or her problem. Knowing where the story takes place is interesting, but this shouldn't be the focus of the beginning. Today’s readers have short attention spans. I don’t want to give mine the opportunity to stop reading. I want to grab their attention and make them read to the end. One exercise I do to help me with this is to read the beginnings of a few novels or short stories and list what I find out about the characters and/or story in the first sentence/paragraph. I've learned a lot about hooking the reader by doing this.

No comments: