Writing Strategy #2 – Grab Your Readers by the Throat

This week, the strategy is how to “grab your reader by the throat” (every week, The Adventurous Writer features a writing strategy from Quips & Tips for Successful Writers or another first-rate source!).

Grabbing your readers (or editors, or publishers) by the throat is a fancy way of saying “write effective leads.” Hooking people will keep them reading – and ensure you get published!

Writing fascinating leads is difficult when you’re blogging, because of Search Engine Optimization. On one hand — whether you’re a blogger or print writer — you need to write effective leads or introductions that catch a reader’s eye. On the other, you have to use your keywords and key phrases properly so Google and other search engines will index your blog posts. You want surfers to find them.  

Writers can’t be as creative or playful when writing blog posts that are meant to attract new readers or internet surfers. But, here’s a writing strategy for introductions that works for both web and print writing…

Involve your readers. What do your readers want — and how can you involve them? You can appeal to their senses (the fear of never getting published, for example), solve their problems (“How do I become a more effective writer?”), or ask an intriguing question (“Would you write erotica if you were paid enough?”).

There are many more ways to hook your readers (grab them by the throat!), but the idea is to write just enough to keep your readers reading. You can do this as a blog writer even if you’re concerned about Search Engine Optimization. Give your readers a peek at your best hand…and then slowly reveal the rest.

Writing great leads is like leaving a trail of bread crumbs throughout your article, chapter, or story. Make sure your reader doesn’t rest until he’s eaten every last crumb. 

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Here’s an example of a bad introduction to a blog post, which I wrote for my How Freelancers, Nonfiction Writers, and Novelists Succeed: “This website – The Adventurous Writer – isn’t just about my successes and failures as a freelance writer and book author. That’s secondary, because I dislike writing about myself. Rather, this site is about how to succeed as a novelist and nonfiction writer!”

It’s a bad introduction because instead of starting off with the blah blah about my website, I should’ve hooked readers and internet surfers with something like, “These six ways to succeed for freelancers, nonfiction writers, and novelists will help you get published faster…” Those are the breadcrumbs that keep people reading – and they’re also effective keywords for Search Engine Optimization!

But alas, that introduction isn’t playful or all that exciting. It does its job…and sometimes that’s all a writer can hope for.

To learn more about writing leads that hook readers, read Writing Great Leads and Hooking Readers on Quips and Tips for Successful Writers.

What have I missed? I welcome your comments or questions about this writing strategy – grabbing your reader by the throat – below…

And, a final word on writing: “It’s important to try to write when you are in the wrong mood or the weather is wrong,” says American poet John Ashbery. “Even if you don’t succeed, you’ll be developing a muscle that may do it later on.”

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4 thoughts on “Writing Strategy #2 – Grab Your Readers by the Throat

  • Bart Cleveland

    You’re dead on when you say to ask what your readers want. I write ads when I’m not writing fiction and the biggest reason ads fail is the same when blogs, fiction or any writing fails. It didn’t consider or know the audience’s needs. Great post!

  • Laurie PK

    Hi Mark,

    It really depends on the content or topic of the article or book chapter. I love quotations and dialogue, and am fond of writing introductions that include what people have said.

    It’s amazing how certain pieces (articles, chapters, poems, novels) speak to you. They actually give you hints about how to write them — sometimes it’s like they’re beginning to be written in a particular way! The more I write, the more this becomes evident to me.

    That’s how I do it. Sorry I have no magic formula to offer….if you have any tips or suggestions for “grabbing readers by the throat”, I welcome them here!

    .-= Laurie PK´s last blog post…5 Tips for Writing Great Conclusions =-.

  • Lanetta Sprott

    I like your bread crumb analogy. Finding the hook is hard for me. I will re-read your article before I post again. Thanks for the insight!