Post originally written on 4th of July
Hi to you and happy Fourth of July!
I thought I’d write a post before enjoying the festivities of the fourth. So, in this post we will talk about capturing your reader’s attention so they will want to read the rest of your book without stopping and thinking that it’s boring, slow, or just not “getting to the good part”.
I really would like to know what you think of the tips so if you want to share, you can leave a comment below and I’ll respond back to you.
Okay, here we go.
Create Tension Or Conflict
You can create a small problem or situation for your heroine to overcome right from the first page. For example, a conflict could be that they’re late for work or that they found out someone stole their very important paperwork that needed to be turned in.
It doesn’t have to be catastrophic in the first chapter because you’re still introducing the character to your reader. So starting off small and going big later is a good way to go without losing or confusing your audience.
Another way is to put your character in a tense situation. Maybe he walks in on his parents having a discussion about getting a divorce and he’s not comfortable with it. Anything that will put your character outside his comfort zone would be more interesting than if he stays in it all the time.
You don’t have to use those examples exactly. I’ve read some books that starts off with the character running away from a crime scene or having sex in the first scene. It really depends on the genre you’re writing in to decide what introduction would grab your reader’s attention the best.
One thing you can do is just try something different. I know sometimes when it comes to some situations it’s impossible not to fall into some kind of cliché but if you think you can create something better then go for it.
If you’re not sure if your first chapter is going to get your reader’s attention, one way to check is by asking a few close friends or family member to read it.
Ask them if it grabs their attention and make them want to read more. If so, then you’re headed in the right direction. If not, then try something a little different. It’s not the end of the world and you’re continuously gaining experience in the process.
Initiate Some Emotion
The more emotion you have for your character to show, the more engaged the reader will be.
I mean think about it. Would you want to read a book where the character doesn’t care about anything? No passion. No wants. No needs. They’re just there. Boring!
If you can start off the book that causes the character to be upset or confused or fired up for the day, it would be a lot more interesting for your readers than a bland characters that’s just going to life with nothing going on.
If you’re writing a mystery then maybe you can start off with your character finding a dead body or a clue to a hidden secret. If you show your character’s curiosity then your readers will get curious too. Get it?
Your readers are more likely to get emotionally invested in the book if they know the character’s are invested too.
But you have to make that emotion clear. One way of doing that is by repetition. By restating your character’s goal the reader will be reminded why it’s important and will be less likely to forget.
Okay, so those were the good ideas. Now let’s go over some of the bad.
I’ll be honest. I’ve done the cliche thing of starting off the story with my character waking up and starting their day. It started after they woke up from a nightmare but it’s still a little cliche.
Try to keep your reader’s attention by starting off with your character actually doing something then the basic wake up, shower, comb hair routine. Unless their lifestyle is different or unique to how we normally do them, but if there is nothing special about it then it may be useful to just skip right to the good part.
Too Much Setting, Not Enough Action
I may be a little bias because setting is not my favorite thing to write or to read, but I do know it’s bad to have too much setting and not enough action.
Because you want both of them, right?
If you’re really good, one way to make sure the setting doesn’t overcrowd the action is to combine both of them.
“I griped the umbrella so hard my knuckles my palm hurts. The streets of Chicago is dirty, dangerous, and unpredictable. Just like this random as weather.”
Okay, that example (which I just made up) hopefully shows action, a character walking down the streets of Chicago, and setting, raining, dangerous and dark. I hope it gave off a feeling that the character didn’t like the location she was in or the weather. And a little bit of personality got in there, too.
The point is, you don’t have to separate setting from action from character personality. You can do it by blending it together beautifully.
Giving Away Everything Too Soon
You want to hook you readers from chapter one and one way to hook them is by holding out information, secrets, answers and results.
So don’t give away too much in the first chapter. Leave something untold to make them keep guessing and wondering what’s going to happen next. That’s what’s going to make them want to turn the page of your book again and again.
Thanks again for reading. If you want to share anything about keeping your reader’s attention, do so below in the comment area so we can read it and check it out.