Getting the Reader's Interest
by Ron Kurtus (revised 5 October 2006)
Your goal as a writer is that people will read what you have written. Just because written material is published, it is no guarantee that people will look at the material or read beyond the first couple of lines.
You need to grab the readers' attention with a good title. You also need to pique their interest with an opener that defines the target audience, states a problem of concern to these people, arouses curiosity, and clearly states your theme, thesis or proposed solution. This will encourage the your audience to continue reading.
Questions you may have include:
- How do you write a good title?
- How do you pique their interest?
- What about the rest of the material?
This lesson will answer those questions.
The title should grab attention
The first thing a person sees in a written work is the title. At the very least, the title should let the reader know what the subject is about. It can also be clever or try to arouse curiosity. The title is an attention-grabber that lets the reader know that the material may be of interest.
Think of what you do when you browse the bookstore. You will often pick up books that have titles that catch your eye and sound interesting. Likewise, consider the titles of the articles or stories you read when looking through a magazine.
The title of this lesson is "Getting the Reader's Interest." Does that get you—as a writer—interested in the essay? Can you think of a better title on this subject that would grab a reader?
The opener arouses interest
The few opening paragraphs are the next thing the reader examines. They should tell whether or not the material is on a topic of interest, what the document is about, as well as to get the person reading on.
Non-fiction often starts with an introduction that gives the reader an idea of what to expect, as well as to garner interest in the material. Sometimes an abstract is used.
Fictional stories often start in the middle of some action that will immediately grab the reader and make him or her wonder what is going on.
Recently news articles have started with a "grabber" that are counter to standard journalistic practice but will get the interest of the reader. For example, a news story may start with: "He was a kind boy, who was always happy. But last night something happened that turned his smile into tears." Then the article goes on to tell how his bicycle was stolen from the schoolyard.
The most important part of the opener is the theme. You should let the reader know what you are writing about. The old adage in giving a good speech is: "Tell them what you are going to talk about, talk about it, then conclude by summarizing them what you talked about." The same goes with good writing.
Example of this lesson
This lesson started with idea of how to get people to read your material. What is enough to get your interest? Can you think of a better way to get people to read on?
The rest of the material
Obviously, you need to have some meat in the body of your work to elaborate on what you initially presented.
It is good to have at least 3 major points to explain or discuss. If you have more than 5 points, you had better break your material into other sections. Facts, references and solid information are important in non-fiction works.
You need to weave a good story to keep them reading. Character development and a solid plot are what make fiction enjoyable.
An important part of a document, essay or story is the conclusion. You've got to end by summarizing what you have said or by tying together the plot, so that the reader feels satisfied. Nothing is worse than reading an excellent article, only to have it dribble off in the end.
To get your reader's interest, you should have a good title to get their attention, and an opening hook to get their interest. The body of your material should explain your points or plot in an effective manner, and the conclusion should tie it all together to give satisfaction to the reader.
If you write something worthwhile, you are helping mankind
Resources and references
Questions and comments
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