Keeping Your Readers Interested In Your Narrative

LifehacksWriting Tips
Jun 18, 2019

Curiosity is part of our core as human beings, and the reason why we have risen above the rest of the world’s species throughout millennia. A decade ago, people were pining for TV and couldn’t get enough of it, but because of curiosity, we have gone beyond – and we continue to do so. Curiosity drives exploration, and has brought us to our smartphones, the best YouTube channels to be hooked on, and our beloved Netflix.  Our curiosity keeps our interest going, as it seems to be human nature to always have the need to figure something out. We always need to know the outcome, and because of this, I think we can agree that curiosity can be seen as a kind of force. It’s sort of a power that makes us act, and that’s precisely why you should understand its language well if you’re a writer. Living in a 5-second attention span world, you need to figure out how to make people pay attention to your short story , otherwise everything will be for nothing! As a writer, you want your readers to invest in your words, to captivate them as the story unfolds. The possibilities of your stories are endless, and your sole purpose is to make them act on the curiosity that you command. So, how do you wield this wonderful force called curiosity? 

Keeping your readers interested: reminders

You have a purpose – understand it. 

You’re writing a narrative essay, a story, so that means you have a purpose. It’s a no-brainer, really, but do you really understand it? What is so gripping about this purpose that your audience will willingly spend much of their time uncovering your message of life secrets? Without a clear understanding of it, you’re frankly just digging a hole up for yourself, where you will essentially suffer in a continuous state of purposelessness. This makes your writing pointless. To truly understand what you want to accomplish, you need to go through a process called introspection: 

  • What do you want the reader to take home after finishing your story?
  • Why are you writing this narrative?
  • Do you wish to offer a philosophical idea that the reader can apply to his or her own life?
  • Do you wish to broaden their perspective on a certain matter?

Perhaps you’re writing a personal narrative essay on inspiration. Your purpose is to inspire and deliver optimism, but your purpose must also be directed to the growth and maturity that comes with learning to accept their mistakes or predicament, and using those to be better. They key is to invest a lot of your time exploring why you’re in the process of writing in the first place.

Give them the unexpected.

Another key to keep them interested is using the art of the unexpected. Your writing should not just dwell on the realm of interesting – it should challenge their brains and rouse emotions. Surprise them with twists and turns, provide them with puzzles they need to solve. And make sure to do these things more than once. Reel them in with your carefully constructed hooks , and then lead them further down through your adventure. Give enough motivation that’s just begging to be explored and you’ll find readers clamoring for what happens next. Fair warning, though: do it logically. Don’t rely on merely just subverting expectations…if you know what I mean (the tragedy that was the supposed greatest TV show of all time, full of dragons and lore and politics). 

Allow your story to be universal and uplifting.

Beyond your purpose, your story should have a direction. To get a good grasp of the said direction, you must firmly set on a theme that will elevate your piece. This will make your story less about you, and more relevant to your reader. Selecting a timeless theme in line with that of classic literature . Remember that you shouldn’t be writing simply to just wow or be recognized. You’re writing about life, which includes all its nooks and crevices, along with its most hideous parts. Attempt to teach beyond those hideous parts, those involved, your own perspective, and everything about human intricacies. Be open to being open, and give the limelight to everything that makes us human. Whatever you will write will live on in their minds and hearts. 

Ditch being pretty; this time, write with utter abandon. 

Oftentimes, great writing is shackled by restriction for the sake of delicacy, or being “pretty”. If your writing didn’t have to be pretty, what do you think you’ll be writing about? The unattractive can be topics that are abandoned, like incest or drugs. And yes, it’s also your personal writing style. Truth be told, most of society choose to stay away from the darkness. But as a writer, you must be brave enough to explore. By doing this, you learn and see something others refuse to. And then you write about it. 

One author says to go back to your childhood years. Dubbed as your formative years, this is the period of time wherein you slowly discerned right from wrong, and processed every new feeling like fear and embarrassment. Fear from spilling juice on the carpet once again, and destroying something out of pure spite. As you learn to write freely, remember all these feelings. As a child, you were an unstoppable machine of chaos, banging heads on the wall just because you can. As you type away, write with utter abandon. Your writing does not have to be pretty – it has to be free and real. 

Yes, we only have five senses. Go beyond them.

As a writer, you’ve probably mastered playing around with sensations beyond the use of sound and sight. I’m not sure why, but there’s always a charm to reading about characters who take note of that special aroma lingering from that little café by the corner after a customer exits. The soft and warm feel of a cozy blanket on a cold night also sounds mesmerizing. Readers love this, but they need more . There is a need for deepening not just the environment your character is in, but your actual character. Here’s the magic tip: use body language. Most of the time these go unnoticed, but the effect is absolute. It gives texture and depth. Lose it, your writing will fall flat on its back. This is by no means an easy task, but begin your journey by reading up on body language. All those text will point out to two things – anxiety and hidden desires. Try to explore your character’s mind and determine how they would feel in certain situations. 

Mary sighed and looked out the window, sinking deeper into her sheets.

As you can see, the sentence does not tell anything about the character and what goes on in her mind. Why did Mary sought for solace in her sheets?

Mary tossed and sighed, turning to look at the window. She sank deeper into her sheets as the wind passed, although it wasn’t as cold. For the first time in months, she found her room empty.

In here, we learn more about Mary’s predicament, without the need for any internal monologue. 

Living in the technological world of smartphones, the competition to stay relevant is at an extreme high. Drawing readers in, and captivating them enough to keep them around is such an exhausting battle. The same tricks won’t work anymore, and sometimes even new ones are treated with general disinterest. The key now is to learn how to wield curiosity as a force, and treat writing as an avenue where the truth is presented, ugly, unyielding, and going beyond. 

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