Writing a story that grabs and holds your reader’s attention is not an easy task, but with some tips, it can become easier to keep your reader/audience engaged. Here are some tips that I’ve used in my work and used by other Award winning writers like myself. Hope you find them useful.
- OPENING HOOK: This is an opening that grabs your reader’s attention and gets them asking questions like how did we get here? And they stay on to find out how the protagonist got here. It’s an opening that puts your audience/reader at a place of dramatic irony, where they know more than the characters in the story. An opening hook helps you start with a bang before slowing down for a little as you set up your story. The advantage of a strong opening hook, is that it opens up a lot of questions for your audience and they’ll stay tuned in to find out more.
- A FAST SET UP: There’s been recent debate about whether a set-up is needed in a story at all. I’m of the school of thought that a great setup is important to get us to understand a little about your character and their world before Ish hits the fan. So I suggest you do the set up of your story as fast as possible then give us the inciting incident (more on the inciting incident in a recent blog, check it out on my website www.damarisirunguo.com)
- MAKE US CARE: Get us to care about your characters so badly that we have no other choice but to go this journey with them and root for them. If we don’t care enough about your protagonist then we can easily switch off, but if we care, we have no choice but to stay on and cheer them as they go after what they desire.
- RAISE STAKES: You have to continually raise the stakes so that you hold our attention and curiosity. Make it harder for your Protagonist to get what they want; this ensures we don’t get bored.
- TELL US SOMETHING NEW: So point number 4 leads us to this point, as you raise stakes, make sure you’re not repeating the same emotional beats. Make sure we are experiencing different emotions through the obstacles you put in your protagonist’s way to stop them from getting what they want. Don’t tell us things we already know or have experienced emotionally in your story, keep the obstacles fresh to keep our attention.
- PAYING OFF AND SETTING UP IS THE NAME OF THE GAME: Before you pay off a part of the story that’s holding our attention as the audience/reader make sure you set up something else that opens another can of worms and holds our attention. There shouldn’t be any moment in time in your story where we don’t have our curiosity and interest level up.
- WITHHOLD AND DRIP FEED INFORMATION: You need to know the correct dosage of what you tell us and what you withhold, so work at giving us enough information to help the audience follow the story, but at the same time not telling the audience/reader everything which makes them lose the curiosity for what will happen next.
- YOUR CHARACTERS DESIRE: You character has to want what they want badly, they have to want it more than we want it for them, this way, it’s easier for us the readers/audience to stay on and root for them as they press on towards their goal.
- ADD A SUBPLOT: Linear/single stories are hard to pull off, unless you have years of great writing experience under your belt, if not, consider adding subplots that are tied to your main story to hold the readers’ attention.
Hope these tips help you with your writing goals. For more of such, check out my blogs at www.damarisirunguo.com
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