“Sam Wheeler reached for his glass of water, but it was no longer there.”
Did that sentence grab your attention? That was its purpose. That’s why the author wrote it.
How can a writer engage a reader? In a bookstore, does the potential reader keep the book after reading the first paragraph? In an anthology of stories, does the reader glance at paragraph one and then jump to the next story?
Two “rules” are in operation here. First, there’s a need to set the conflict, even if it’s only by a minor hint. For example, in the case of Sam Wheler (above), the story is about a young explorer who fell into a cave without his backpack, and is surrounded by salt water. He is delirious. There is no glass of water.
Second, the sentence grabs the reader’s attention by describing a primal need (obtaining water) and the frustration of an inability to complete an expected action. In this case, the sentence takes advantage of the time worn concept in jokes – surprising the audience by turning their expectations upside down.
Place yourself in a bookstore where you plan to purchase one book on a shelf of authors and titles that are unfamiliar to you. You pick up book after book but just put each one back until one book “grabs” your attention and imagination. You cannot put it down. This is the book you purchase. (Not that it’s the “best” book on the shelf. It’s just the book you purchase, and this is what matters most to the author and publisher. And nowhere has the competition among books been as severe as it is today, with over 2 million books published in the world each year.)
Alternatively, imagine you are browsing a series of short fiction stories in a book or on a website. Given the level of impatience that’s come to characterize most readers in recent years, there’s little chance that they will read each story in full. Instead, they will read a sample (usually paragraph one) and jump to the next story if their attention is not engaged.
So, writer friends, please understand that your reading audience is not there to admire you. Instead, you are on stage for the shortest of moments, book or story in hand, flashing your wares in the hope that the audience won’t pummel you with tomatoes.
Handbook of Research on Examining Global Peacemaking in the Digital Age, Bruce L. Cook (ed.)
Violent behavior has become deeply integrated into modern society and it is an unavoidable aspect of human nature. Examining peacemaking strategies through a critical and academic perspective can assist in resolving violence in societies around the world.
The Handbook of Research on Examining Global Peacemaking in the Digital Age is a pivotal reference source for the latest research findings on the utilization of peacemaking in media, leadership, and religion. Featuring extensive coverage on relevant areas such as human rights, spirituality, and the Summer of Peace, this publication is an ideal resource for policymakers, universities and colleges, graduate-level students, and organizations seeking current research on the application of conflict resolution and international negotiation.
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Publishing New Writers,
February, 2019 (Vol. 20, no. 2)
Dr. Bruce L. Cook
1407 Getzelman Drive
Elgin, IL 60123
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