Getting Readers to Keep Reading

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You can write the best plot in the world and it may mean nothing.

Sometimes I wonder how many great plots are out there that no one has read because readers couldn’t get past the first page of the book. It’s a sad reality, but it’s true that if you don’t have a good beginning, few people will continue reading and even fewer will get to the end.

I’ve been trying to read more indie books now that I can mooch off my mom’s Kindle Unlimited subscription, but boy is it difficult. I pick up a promising book with good reviews, settle down, start reading…

…and then almost instantly put the book down.

Let me recount the most recent disaster when I put down a book literally after the first page (and this was on Kindle so it was actually two paragraphs).

The first sentence wasn’t great, but I can forgive that. The whole first paragraph was okay; I could handle a bit more. And then the second paragraph. Oh, the second paragraph…

The author launched into a whole explanation about who the main character was, what she looked like, why she wore glasses… (I’m not joking y’all.) I groaned. Then I laughed. Then I sighed, because I didn’t understand how it could happen so many times. And I’m not picking up trash books, either; these are well-reviewed novels.

Sure, it may be hard to enter the publishing world. Getting an agent and a publisher is hard, and successfully publishing and marketing your own books is arguably even harder. But though it may be hard to get published, it’s not hard to stand out. The more I read, the more I’m appalled at the rookie writing that gets published every single day.

So here you go. Right here, right now, I’m telling you the secret of how to stand out, how to keep your readers reading your book. Ready? This is revolutionary. (I hope you can hear the sarcasm.)

Resist exposition.

Or, as one of my favourite authors, Bryan Davis, puts it: Resist the Urge to Explain (RUE). If you have a good first line and do this, there’s an 80% chance you’ll have a great, solid beginning to your book. That statistic is definitely scientifically proven.

Our natural inclination is to explain everything at the beginning, but that’s not how good storytelling works. You need to give readers tidbits of information – and those tidbits don’t come from huge chunks of explanation, but from characters interacting with the world, from dialogue, and from other actions.

As long as you have this in mind, your beginning will keep readers reading as they want to know more.

So pay attention to the beginning. It will set your book up for either success or failure. Read more about it in these posts:

Happy writing!
-E.J.


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Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

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When you write as much as I do, you have to take frequent breaks from sitting. A standing desk (not a whole desk, but a mini desk that will sit on top of my current desk with my laptop, keyboard, and mouse and extend upward) will allow me to continue working while maintaining that good blood flow to my brain. Thank you so much for your support that allows me to keep producing free content. God bless you! ♥️ E.J.

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