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By Johannes Helmold

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We live in times when humanity within a hundred years has produced more knowledge and information than throughout its entire history. I don’t know whether it’s good or bad, but I know this fact affects the way people perceive information.

When you have free access to the whole world, at first you get stunned by how much stuff there is out there. But as time passes, you shrink your consumption of information to a necessary minimum. This refers to websites, music, and books.

Speaking of books and authorship, readers have become picky and capricious; a writer must not only express his or her ideas, but also lure a reader into reading his or her work. By luring, I mean special writing techniques that will help you get people to read through your text. So, here are some of them.

1. Start with a blast. Remember the beginning of the film “Fight Club”? This is what I am talking about: starting a novel or a short story with a dynamic and intense scene will make readers want to figure out how the story came to that point, or what will happen next.

2. Use active language. There is no need to expand on this point too much; compare the two sentences below. The first of them is written in an “active” style with the usage of power words, and the second one is a regular, insipid sentence.

  • It looked like the bus driver believed he was transporting lumber, not people; at the next stop, his brakes squealed, the doors shut open, and Jack fell out of the overcrowded bus.
  • The bus driver was driving recklessly; at the next stop, he pushed the brakes abruptly, the doors opened, and Jack was pushed out from the overcrowded bus.

3. This point is one of the most crucial: your readers should empathize with your characters and feel they are alive. Recall some of the characters of bad novels you’ve read before. All of them are possibly joined by at least one typical feature: they appeared to be made out of cardboard templates. The main male character is a good-looking guy, smart, decisive, physically developed, and brave. The main female character is smart, active, beautiful, sexually attractive, brave, and so on. The negative characters strive to conquer the world; they laugh with manic laughter and kill people for fun.

Have you ever seen such a person in real life? Most likely the answer is no. Each of us is a combination of positive and negative traits; this is what makes us unique and interesting to other people, and this is what makes characters alive. Remember Charles Bukowski? His characters drink alcohol, gamble, speak dirty language, but each of them are real. Small vices, hidden thoughts, suppressed desires—this is what dilutes sugary positivity and adds credibility to your story. The sooner your readers learn about these vices, the better.

4. Secrets and everything from beyond. By “beyond” I mean subconscious motives that drive your characters, but of which they may or may not be aware of. If you do not tell directly what comprises the minds of your characters and let your readers guess for a while, using only tips and hints, this will help you perk their interest.

5. And don’t forget about good old cliffhangers! If you don’t know what a cliffhanger is, read George R. R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones.” The way he finishes a chapter about one character at the most interesting place and switches to another can drive you crazy!

These are not all of the writing techniques one can use to engage readers. In the next few posts, I’ll be revealing more tricks that can help you conquer your readers’ hearts. Stay updated!

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