4 Q.U.I.C.K. Techniques To Grab Attention With Your Opening
What’s the second most important part of your chapter after the title? Your opening statement or paragraph should grab attention immediately. Master copywriter Eugene Schwartz knew the value of his opening words. It is said he often spent an entire week on the first 50 words of a sales piece — the title and the opening paragraph.
The first impression and opening words are touted as the second important piece of most things worthy of our reading. Just imagine how disappointed your reader would be after they were pulled in by your hot headline for your chapter, only to lose interest with an opening that failed to carry the momentum. A great title followed up by a dud opening can cause your potential readers to stop before they get started reading. If you lose their interest, many are unforgiving; you will never get a second chance. So, here are five ways to open your chapter and capture your reader’s imagination from the start then pull them deeper into your chapter.
1. Question your reader. Opening your chapter with a question is a rhetorical device. The rhetorical question is a question to which no answer is required: used especially for dramatic effect. It should create curiosity and get your reader thinking. Thinking is the same as active engagement in your writing.
Sample: “Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who would want to live in an institution?” (H. L. Mencken) “The means are at hand to fulfill the age-old dream: poverty can be abolished. How long shall we ignore this under-developed nation in our midst? How long shall we look the other way while our fellow human beings suffer? How long” (Michael Harrington, The Other America: Poverty in the United States, 1962)
2. Use an Analogy, Metaphor or Simile Analogies, metaphors and similes are considered the most powerful devices to use when it comes to telling a story in a single sentence. An analogy, as you may know, is a similarity between like features of two things, on which a comparison may be based: the analogy between the heart and a pump.
A simile is an expressed analogy; a metaphor is an implied one. Nevertheless, it’s a wonderful way to capture your reader’s attention. It also acts to provoke mental imagery that allows readers to tell a story to themselves.
Samples: Cameron’s house is like a museum. It’s very cold, and very beautiful, and you’re not allowed to touch anything.” (Matthew Broderick as Ferris in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 1986)
“Writing a book of poetry is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo.” (Don Marquis)
3. Inspire the Imagination. Producing a mental image in a reader’s mind is one of the most powerful things you can ever do as a writer, so engaging the imagination is a powerful opening technique. Activate the inner eye of the reader by using words like “imagine,” “picture this,” “do you remember when,” “See…,” etc.
Imagine your book already finished…Picture your customers writing in about how much your book has helped them. -First Chapter Challenge, Vision Creation Exercise
5. Cite a Shocking Statistic Jumpstarting your chapter with an interesting factoid is also a great technique. People love trivia or interesting data about just about any topic. Even so, make sure it’s unique, startling, or even shocking. The statistic should also be directly relevant to the thesis of your chapter as well.
Sadly, in the next eighteen minutes when I do our chat, four Americans that are alive will be dead from the food that they eat. My name is Jamie Oliver. I am thirty four years old. I am from Essex in England and for the last seven years I have worked fairly tirelessly to save lives in my own way. I am not a doctor; I’m a chef. I don’t have expensive equipment, or medicine. I use information and education. I profoundly believe that the power of food has a primal place in our homes that binds us to the best bits of life.
Are you ready to discover how I wrote and published twelve books and how you can too? You can find the full 10 Devices To Create An Attention Grabbing Lead Paragraph lesson along with other helpful resources in the First Chapter Challenge website at http://www.firstchapterchallenge.com