How To Grab Readers’ Attention
In any storytelling technique, the first word, phrase or sentence is usually what grabs the reader’s attention. This phenomenon is especially true in fiction where you have an opening that immediately draws the reader in.
In content marketing (aka blogging!), this phenomenon is known as the ‘hook’ appeal.
Hook appeal is what gets your potential readers or customers engaged – what hooks them into wanting to know more and buying your idea or products.
The ‘hook’ is the point where you capture or lose your readers’ attention. For example, the title of this piece intrigued you enough to click the link and read up to this point and still have a desire to continue.
Yes, you guessed right, this title was clickbait. But that’s okay, as long as it is used ethically. Writers of novels and screenplays can learn from marketing here!
1) Use Lists
The fact is, listicles work as it gets you curious (Even if it annoys you sometimes). You cant help wondering what six techniques you need to grab the readers’ attention. Next, you’re thinking, “Will reading this piece make me a better writer? Will I learn a new useful trick?”
Now you know that is the first writing trick that grabs attention. Of course you may not want to use a listicle in a novel (and definitely not in a screenplay). However, knowing how to use punctuation like semi colons, colons and dashes in your prose effectively can elevate your writing.
Here are 5 other techniques that work.
2) Open with an intriguing statement
Have you ever come across an article that had you hooked in from the beginning? Most likely, the writer started with a provocative question, a startling statement, a shocking statistic, or made you feel something and then left you hanging.
Starting a story with an intriguing, surprising, unexpected, or controversial statement will make your readers want to read further to see how your narrative logically justifies the shocking assertion that tries to disprove a long-held notion they’ve taken as a fact.
In fact, readers are more engaged and many times more likely to share content that starts with an intriguing statement. Doesn’t a statement like “Money will not make you happy.” or “Education is overrated” pique your interest? MORE: 5 Essential Tips To Keep Your Writing Engaging
3) Immerse your readers right in the middle of the action
There’s no bigger chore than sitting through boring writing. That’s why you need to make sure it has something for readers, whether it’s through an interesting intro or a healthy dose of visuals.
Humans are visual creatures and cannot fail to notice any story that throws them right in the middle of the action and gets them soaked up in it. So, keep them engrossed in the story. Make them excited about the action imageries you paint in your story, so they eagerly anticipate what’s next.
Visuals grab attention. Use strong dramatic images like these to draw your readers in.
4) Make your readers connect emotionally with the story
So, your story isn’t exactly action-packed? No problem! Here’s another attention-grabbing technique that works like crazy: appealing to your readers’ emotion.
The most captivating and persuasive writing is the kind that connects with our emotions. It is often difficult to write about something, especially something as personal as love or loss. But if you can capture readers’ attention by arousing strong feelings in them, you will create a strong bond with them and that will carry throughout your writing.
5) Make your readers want to know more
Good writing makes the reader experience the story and long to know more or ask questions. That’s because it makes your readers interested in the backstories, your characters, motivations etc while keeping them in the dark on the next plot.
6) Short, crisp, conversational tone works well
People read more when they feel like you’re talking with them or they’re a part of the conversation.
Short, simple, free-flowing sentences with equally simple vocabulary and first and second person narration style (“You,” “I,” “We,’ “Us”) will make your readers experience the story feel like you’re addressing them personally, on their own level. Yes, write for your audience and Keep It Short and Simple (KISS).
Generally, when you write in a conversational tone, people tend to:
- read more;
- connect more with the story;
- avoid turning the page quickly; and
- trust your sources more.
Why a good hook is important
Writing a great hook is a speciality skill that can make or break your piece of writing. A great hook can turn an ordinary piece of content into something unforgettable, drawing readers in and keeping them glued until the end. It can also create a sense of urgency, leading readers to actively seek out additional scenes, chapters, or information if your piece, novel, script or series.
BIO: Isabelle Munachimso is an experienced SEO copywriter and brand strategist who’s worked on multiple digital marketing projects for clients across different niches in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. She is the CEO of NaijaCopy.com. You can follow her on Twitter @NaijaCopySEO.