It has none of the characteristics that make something worthwhile.
It's not fun, it causes anxiety, it gives you a warped sense of reality,
and people who watch it are rarely going to do anything with the information they get.
Yet, watch it they do. Why?
If we want our books to sell,
we need to be able to answer
The appeal of many books, ideas and actions boils down to six key factors –
1.) A person-centered subject matter
2.) The presence of patterns
3.) The odd incongruity
4.) A topic that pushes the buttons of hope or fear
5.) Stimuli that engage our body or senses
6.) Thoughts that play to our psychological biases
Rhyming idioms are catchy, attractive and appear truthful
because they are easy to mentally process and their repetitive sound appeals to our love of patterns.
Idioms that at first glance appear contradictory stimulate our keen eye for incongruity.
Fiction is so engrossing because we are hard-wired to detect useful information
and while part of our brain knows that what we are reading is make-believe,
another part thinks the characters, and events, are real.
Some aspect of our poor susceptible minds really thinks Hannibal Lector is out there.
Have you ever left a movie feeling vaguely dissatisfied?
You didn’t like the film but don’t know exactly why?
Chances are, the movie failed in terms of story structure.
Storytelling is so ingrained in us that it sets up certain expectations for how a story should unfold.
When those expectations are defied, it leaves us vaguely unsettled.
A story is a character in pursuit of a goal in the face of an obstacle or challenge.
How the character resolves (or fails to resolve) the challenge creates the drama and human interest that keeps us reading or listening.
HOW TO HOOK THE READER ...
1.) GET INTO YOUR PROTAGONIST'S HEAD RIGHT OFF AND STAY THERE.
2.) NO HEAD HOPPING
Readers will only know how the other characters are feeling through what your protagonist
notices and perceives—their words, actions, facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, etc.
3.) LEARN FROM THE DOCTOR DELIVERING A BABY
Slap your MC right out of the gate.
It doesn’t need to be the main problem of the story,
but put something on the first or second page that challenges him and makes the readers start worrying about him.
The difficulty or dilemma can be internal, external, or interpersonal.
4.) GRAVITY TAKES NO BREAKS; IT ONLY GIVES THEM
Introduce some opposition in the first few pages.
Bring on a rival, an enemy, or a nasty villain fairly early to get things moving fast and make your readers start biting their nails.
Surprise gets our attention by defying our expectations.
We’re wired to immediately start figuring out what’s actually going on,
the better to gauge whether the smack we're about to receive will be on the lips or aside the head.
Science has proven that the brain uses emotion, rather than reason, to gauge what matters to us.
So it’s not surprising that when it comes to story, if we’re not feeling, we’re not reading.
In a compelling story the reader slips into the protagonist’s skin and becomes her/him –
feeling what she feels, wanting what she wants, fearing what she fears.
7.) HEMINGWAY YOUR WORDS
Over 11,000,000 pieces of information dive-bomb our five senses every second.
Don't add to the reader's input unless it is necessary. Bore the reader; lose the reader.
8.) NEVER BLUR THE FOCUS
We access the universal only through the very specific. The story is in the specifics.
"Dario had a hard day."
There are all sorts of hard days. Is Dario a door-to-door salesman or a Roman gladiator?
Use the" Eyes-Wide-Shut test."
If you shut your eyes, can you see it? If not, then neither can the reader.
9.) MAKE THEM LAUGH
Life is hard enough for your reader. Give them a chuckle or two in each chapter even if your tale is a dark one.
It is always darker after a light has died than if it had never existed at all.
10.) CARE ABOUT YOUR STORY
If you care, it will carry over into your words.
Charlaine Harris stopped caring about Sookie
and just continued to write the novels to keep her contract.
However she redeemed herself with her Midnight, Texas novels.
Let's hope her enthusiasm for those characters is not tarnished by the NBC series based on them.
For laughter and reflection: