ne of the ultimate goals of any work of art, whether it is a book or movie or even a short article on the internet, is to not just capture the audience’s attention, but to immerse the audience’s attention.
Immersion is a sort of figurative absorption, where the reader is so enraptured and invested in the work before them that they feel a part of it. This connection is what makes one work great, and another merely passable. When a reader is in some way invested in your work, they will surely reciprocate with further investment in you.
This is also how one “hooks” readers, ensnaring their attention with such efficiency that a producible result is almost guaranteed.
There are many ways to accomplish this, but of course, as with all things, the more you do, the more you get:
1. Know What to Write – Write What You Know
It does not matter at all what it is you write about. Out of everything on this list, this tip is the only one that is mandatory.
You must write what you know.
No one likes an ultracrepidarian. Though there is a surefire way to avoid ultracrepidarianism, and the inevitable loss of credibility that comes with it; simply know more things, or become more knowledgeable. The internet is rife with ways and methods of doing this; there are plenty of libraries and books around for the taking.
Better yet, there is a whole world out there beyond your computer screen, doing awesome things every second of every day. Going out and finding as many of these nonstop occurrences is a definitive method for getting “in the know.”
2. Long Enough to Intrigue – Short Enough to Ensure a Healthy Appetite
Many people believe that you need ample length of content to facilitate interest. Many more prescribe to the belief that “less is more.”
Both of these lines of thought are right and wrong.
Without enough content, nothing substantial can be gained, and displays a lack of information or knowledge. Too much content and most will not even bother, and rightly so, as this also, ironically, displays a lack of true knowledge or understanding, albeit in a much different way.
What must be present in either case is consistency. A steady, sizable stream of legitimate, wholehearted content and knowledge will keep people coming back for answers. Reliability and dependability, while touted endlessly, are actually quite rare. Become the oak, and those seeking stability will naturally come and stay.
3. Word Choice – Balance Variety with Familiarity
Many “gurus” love to praise the thesaurus, and in essence word variety. Yet here we have another case of “missing the point,” and needing balance.
If someone were to literally use as many different words as possible, you would end up with an unintelligible jargon, similar to the impenetrable lexicon of obtuse word slinging found in most post-modern philosophy.
It is better to have a mid-sized vocabulary, with just enough variety to assuage over exposure, but small enough that readers do not have to look in a dictionary every few sentences.
Breeding a small, unique collection of words and terms also ensures comfort, a certain, unexplained familiarity, such as being home or lying on the couch at a good friend’s house.
If the reader is not comfortable with the material, then the writer has failed.
4. “When in Doubt, Cut it Out”
The mind has a bad habit of over-thinking things, which is understandable, as that is its job – to think, think, and think some more.
The problem comes from too much thinking, often the cause of “analysis paralysis.” This is often the beginning of the infamous “writer’s block” and the ever dreadful approach anxiety.
It is during these times that one has to realize that you also have a gut, and it shouldn’t be ignored. Listen to yourself. You have a lot more to say than you might think.
5. Fluff and Support – Absolutely No Filler
Of course, you don’t want to pack on meaningless filler. Yet you also do not want to write something which sounds like a scientific study or a book report (unless you are actually writing a scientific study or a book report).
Writing is supposed to come across as natural, which is becoming increasingly difficult as people become more atomized, dependent on their phones and computers, and overall neurotic.
This is where Step 1 comes in handy; going out and experiencing the world will naturally make you more confident and natural, and it will show in everything you do.
6. Always Err on the Side of Brevity…
“Brevity is the soul of wit.” The reason for this is because the fewer resources one has or uses, the more skill that is required to accomplish anything.
Anyone can build a home if you give them enough tools and supplies, and enough time to do it. Yet imagine having to build a suitable abode with nothing but some twigs and leaves, in 24 hours, in a remote forest in Zanzibar? If you know what you’re doing it will be alright, otherwise…
7. … Yet be sure to Give them their “Money’s Worth”
While refraining from being fearful of saying too much, also remember that content implies providing something of substance. Any substance requires a significant amount of mass in order to be viable, to be useful in any way.
Despite the ever present complaints of the average person’s dwindling attention span, people will pay attention to things of great value and interest. The subconscious is there to take care of all of the little things. The conscious, however, requires deliberate action and coaxing. This will get people to say “I want to read this. I want to consume this.”
8. Teach Your Audience – Introduce Something New
When writing what you know, it’s best to know a few things that others may not know. Merely regurgitating common sense will frustrate many, leaving them wondering why they even bother asking you for answers they already have.
You do not go to the store to buy the groceries you need when you already have the groceries you need. This logic must be applied to your consumer base, your readership, as well.
9. Have Lots of Fun – Share the Fun (Gently, Without Force)
Escapism is a massive market these days. No longer are many people worried about staving off hunger or wild animals or harsh climates. Instead, there is a new enemy, and it is perhaps the most subversive of them all; boredom.
Boredom is like a vacuum, sucking away everything of value in sight, including one’s energy, vitality, and productivity. The number one best way to defeat boredom is to become genuinely content. Though this is very difficult and takes a lot of time, so what do you do in between? You turn to entertainment, of course. Movies, video games, books, articles, jokes, toys, they all exist to fill this void.
10. Be Professional – Take Yourself and Your Work Seriously
Of course, no one is going to take you seriously if you do not take yourself seriously. You can joke and play all you want, but you must present yourself well.
It is often said that “it’s not what you say, but how you say it.” This implies that the true meaning or value of something is shown in how it is presented.
Speaking with authority is a must. Though what is perhaps even greater is speaking with clarity. This may sound like common sense, but it is so big and so important and integral to writing that many overlook it, thinking to themselves “Well duh, that’s the whole reason why I’m doing this!”
Never overlook the basics,. They are your foundation upon which everything you do rests. Take care of these, and they will take great care of you.
11. Do Not Force Anything Onto Your Readers – But Speak with Authority
Last but not least, you must realize that you cannot force everyone to pay you any mind. Realize that some things are just out of your control, and that you can only do so much.
This mindset helps to set the base for a grand realization; the people that want to come to you will find a way, no matter what. The people that want nothing to do with you, will do everything they can to ignore you, and that is that.
“Build it and they will come.”
Chasing after every possible consumer is a waste of time and energy. Again, you are only one person. There is no way you can literally reach 1 million or more individuals individually. You have to let them gather, and then cast a net. Here you focus on the ones you can catch, and pay little attention to the ones that will inevitably get away.
It helps to think of everything as one big balancing act. Venture too far in any one direction, and you risk tipping everything over. Whatever work was done elsewhere will be neglected and left a mess. Remember this as you write and everything else will naturally fall into place.