Hooked a Reader…Now What?

Recently, I wrote about the importance of hooking a reader with a great first line or paragraph in your story.  The goal is to entice the reader to keep reading.

So after you’ve written a killer first sentence or paragraph, what comes next?  How do you keep the reader engaged where they feel compelled to keep turning pages?

Fantasy author Michael Sullivan posted on this topic recently and rather than reinvent the wheel, I’ll point you to his post, “Writing Advice 17 – A Reason to Read.”

Sullivan focuses on several key areas to improve the quality of the storytelling that keeps a reader on the proverbial hook.

  • Add layers of mystery to your story.  Parallel or overlapping story questions keep the readers intrigued.
  • Add or increase conflict, a key requirement.  Stories are really about characters in conflict.
  • Add or increase tension and suspense.  Tension creates the emotion of anticipation where the reader expects something important to happen.

I highly recommend this quick refresher on the elements of story that will keep your readers engaged in your stories and eager for the next ones.

Has anyone discovered or used any other techniques to keep readers turning pages?

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2 responses to “Hooked a Reader…Now What?

  • Reggie

    That’s probably the hardest of writing, catching readers who all have different interests. Good post 🙂

  • Mark J. Taylor

    Hopefully, by the time the reader opens to the first page, you’ve captures some of their interest with your first line/paragraph hook. After that, it’s delicate work to “reel” them in, go to fast, they jump off the hook. Go to slow and they’ll never finish the story. The right balance of line tension and movement will keep the reader “hooked” as you slowly reel them in for the duration of the story. Then, you catch and release so they’ll read another story.

    If you like fishing metaphors, that is….

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