How to capture your reader’s attention
Top Teacher Tips from Adam Riches
When we think about creative writing, the first elements that pop into our heads are things like plot, vocabulary and characters.
These are all important aspects of a piece of writing, but to truly capture the reader there are a few other considerations that you can think about to add sophistication and equally as importantly, clarity.
Perspective / viewpoint
Often, we neglect the view that the reader is given – we don’t do this intentionally, but we get so caught up in writing the narrative, we forget to think about what it looks like to the reader. For example, when writing descriptively, it is easy to just explain what a character can see. This only creates one dimension for the reader.
Consider this: a character is looking at a busy train station. Describing what they see and feel, maybe what they hear, gives you a few rich lines of narrative before you have to move on with your plot. Instead, think about describing the sensory feelings of the character and then shifting their viewpoint. A vivid description looking at the train station followed by another des riot jon as they move through the scene creates a multilayered description for the reader. For me, good writing fully immerses me in a character’s experience. The Road, 1984, Fahrenheit 451 – they all shift the viewpoint of the narrative voice constantly.
When it comes to structuring writing, there are numerous different ways that we can attempt to roadmap our story. Even the shortest of stories can be structured in a way that creates more engagement for the reader.
Although paragraphing and sentence manipulation are important stylistic features, the real consideration structurally should always be what is revealed and when.
As far back as Aristotle in Ancient Greece (and probably before!!) consideration has been given to how audiences and readers are fed a story. Tension at the right times creates engagement, too little and the audience switches off, too much and it loses effect. When you’re writing, have a real think about when you reveal different events and ideas to your reader, the right structure can have a huge impact on how engaging your story is.
Ambiguity and vagueness
Sometimes we can use ambiguity and vagueness intentionally to keep our readers guessing. There have been some great pieces on this site already about the importance of showing and not telling your reader what is unfolding. One pitfall is that we accidentally confuse the reader by not giving enough information for our story to make sense to them.
That’s the key bit – to them. When you’re writing your piece always keep in mind that you know everything about your story because it’s yours! It’s easy for you to fill the blanks because you made it up.
Unintentional ambiguity and vagueness can make narratives hard to follow. I know it can be daunting, but to overcome this, ask somebody to read through your writing and get them to tell you if it makes sense to them. Sometimes, the most simple amendments can dispel any confusion.
Writing creatively is a wonderful process…it can also be difficult at times. Stick with it and remember that the most amazing stories started somewhere