No one is reading your piece of writing long enough to get to the juicy part. They have no patience for a slow warm-up. If your audience isn’t attached to their seat with Velcro, they are quietly leaving.
The above opening is a paragraph infused with a bit of drama. You know that the “hook” is important when you want to capture a reader’s attention or draw in an audience when you are speaking live or virtually. Emotion, drama, action, or controversy are all natural hooks.
Have you noticed that as you write it takes a little while to warm up, to really get into the flow? Your mind loosens up and you start “getting to the good part.” This may take 200 words or more.
Look back over an article or blog you’ve written. Chances are that the “best” part of your information is not found in the first paragraph. It may be tucked away in paragraph six! Ideally, you still have your readers on the hunt by that point, but…you’ll lose many of them.
Once you have retrieved a piece of your prior writing, find the hot spot, which is often around the 200-word mark. Try moving that part up to the top of your piece. See how it performs as an opening act.
I especially like to do this with dialogue. As an example, bear with me:
Once upon a time, a little girl named Goldilocks went for a walk in the forest. She became hungry and thirsty and knocked on the door of a little house. When there was no answer, she tried the door, opened it, and walked right in.
Typical beginning of a story, right? We know the setting, the character, and her motivation. Yawn.
Or the story could start with a little less information and a little more intrigue and drama.
“Ow-eee! This porridge is too hot!” exclaimed the little girl called Goldilocks. She was caught off guard because, after all, it was not her porridge. She had let herself in and had no idea whose house it was, but guessed it was a family of three because she had two more bowls of porridge to sample from the place settings on the table.
What happens next? (That’s what you want your reader to think after your first paragraph.)
Next time you sit down to write, DO NOT fret over your first paragraph, trying to make it dramatic and attention-grabbing. Just write, write, write and get your mind in the flow. Later, come back to your beginning and see if there is treasure buried in your piece that you could move up to create more initial fascination.
For the best visual example of grabbing attention with immediacy, watch a James Bond movie.
Get started on your attention-getting book today!