Keeping the Reader’s Attention
How many times have you visited your favorite book store, browsed the aisles, had a couple of titles catch your eye? If you’re like me, you can’t count the times. After checking it out briefly, you buy the books, check out, go home. Once there, you cozy up in the recliner with a nice warm blanket, and open a book up to read. As you near finishing the first chapter, your disappointment level is mounting.
What happened? What changed from the book store encounter with a book that looked and appeared to be so interesting, so enticing, to the one you have in your hands now? The author failed to do one very important thing. The author failed to have the reader’s attention by the end of the first chapter. If the reader is bored before they finish reading just one chapter, do you truly expect them to have the desire to finish your book?
It’s a fair assumption to say that if an author does not the reader’s attention early on, they’ve lost that reader. What’s worse? The reader just spent money on a boring book. Readers talk. If too many readers tell too many people, “Hey, don’t buy this book, it’s like totally boring,” then you’ve lost a lot of potential customers. Let’s say that same author puts out a new book. The reader that bought the previous book sees it on another shopping trip. Do you think that reader will buy another of that author’s books? Doubtful.
Now for the tricky part. How do you make that first chapter, and all others for that matter, interesting enough to grab that reader’s attention, and hold it? First of all, be assured that not all readers how the same interest. So it stands to reason that there will always be someone who will find your book boring, blah, off color, just plain out wrong. To grab the attention of the reader, there is a basic, and fairly simple idea you can follow.
Start by using the power of description. Describe what you are talking about. The reader can’t read your thoughts. Use descriptive words. Appeal to the reader’s senses: their emotions, their fears, their wants, their desires. Write to move the reader, to want to help the helpless, slap the villain, rescue the damsel in distress, run away with the hero. Make them not want to put your book down.
The woman walked across the room and stood beside him, listening.
The seductive woman slithered across the crowded room, and clung to him, mesmerized by his every word.
See the difference? Which tells you more about the woman and what she is doing? Now you’re understanding. The point is, don’t just tell the reader something, show them! Grab their attention, and then keep it.
If you can keep them glued to the book through the first chapter, you’ve usually got them through the entire book. What’s so good about that? They’re much more likely to buy your next book.