How to grab the reader

You’ve got an ending that everyone from Hemingway to Faulkner would enjoy. Maybe the tale on the whole is a winding, riveting, poignant, ride that tells more about the human condition than any work before it. That’s all well and good.

But it isn’t going to get anyone to read past page one. Here are a few easy ways to grab modern readers, or any readers for that matter. I’m going to put this post in list format because, for some reason, lists are the preferred method of everything nowadays [1] , and I don’t want you to get bored.

  1. START WITH A PAGE OR SO OF EXPOSITION – This is the perfect way to take the reader by the hand and guide them slowly into your story or your world. This can be accomplished differently in literary and speculative fiction. For spec fic, why not start off with one (or ten) pages of history about your world. Start when whatever deity or not-deity crafted whatever world or civilization on the back of a spacefaring turtle. Then take the reader on a journey up until the current day. Include as many poorly-researched names as possible. In literary fiction, most certainly start with how drab or depressing your protagonist’s life was before the event that changed their life. Or describe a car ride. Maybe to an airport in the rain.
  2. GO WITH SOMETHING PITHY – A witty remark, a platitude. Either way. Maybe quote an author that you feel represents who you are as a writer. Take yourself seriously.
  3. SONNETS – I don’t think any explanation is necessary.
  4. GIVE CONTEXT TO YOUR MAIN CHARACTER – Maybe start with a flashback. Now, this sounds challenging, but it really isn’t. Just give a paragraph of action, then have your protagonist remember something from their childhood for the next 15 pages. Alternatively, you can start with your main character waking up and going through their morning routine. This allows the reader to get to know your character, and allows you to open a window into their life before the events of your story.
  5. SPEAK TO THE READER – Readers love when you talk directly to them before getting into the story. It allows them to get acclimated with your voice. They need your guidance to understand what you’re going to say.

Well, that’s enough ways to start a story off well. [2] In my next post, I’ll detail things to avoid in opening your tale.

[2] By well, I mean poorly.These are things that rarely work, and generally don’t add much even when they don’t ruin the whole thing. If you found this footnote redundant, congratulations for having a solid grasp on sarcasm. Now go here for some actual tips.