How to get the reader’s undivided attention

Principle #1 – The Power of Storytelling

If you don’t learn this principle, you’ll never be successful. Do I have your attention now?

Hi, I’m Diana, and this is Story Artist.

In this 15 part series I call “The Power of Storytelling”, I want to talk to you about 15 storytelling principles you need to understand and to master. And these principles will skyrocket everything you do as an author, be it your fiction or nonfiction, be it blogging, be it marketing. Storytelling is such a powerful tool and it works in every area you want to work it in.

You can do marketing with storytelling. You can do blogging with storytelling, and it works every single time. So I want to share with you those 15 principles I didn’t invent, but principles that really work because they derive their power from storytelling. That is actually in our human DNA because we humans love stories. We tell ourselves stories every single day. And we love stories because they help us make sense of our world. They help bring things into context. And this is why you need to master storytelling in order to be successful. Let’s get started with principle number one.

In today’s world, we are distracted all the time. There’s so much information out there. So many things that fight for our attention constantly and this is why actually a classical novel would never stand a chance in today’s world. If they weren’t famous, if it weren’t Tolstoy or  Hemingway, people wouldn’t read those novels.

Why? Because they don’t grab the attention from the first sentence on, and this is so important. In order to grab your reader’s attention and to have him read what you have to say, to even get him into the story itself, you need to grab their attention straight away. How? With the hook. The hook is a storytelling principle, and I gave you an example of how I started this video.

I started by saying: if you don’t learn this principle, you’ll never be successful. How do I use this hook? I used the fear. I use something that gave you a question, that raised a question.  What principle is it? Why am I not going to be successful if I don’t learn this? And you want to learn the answer to this question because I toggle the fear inside of you.

The fear of missing out.

The hook is at the beginning of your story and the shorter your story is, the shorter is the hook. The more the importance is made on the first sentence, on the first two or three sentences. So if it’s just a short email, the first sentence is really important. If it’s a longer novel, you might have more time to grab your reader’s attention.

But still, the first sentence is the one that counts the most and the hook works for every aspect of storytelling, be it and novel be it a blog post, nonfiction book, email marketing. If you’re a speaker and whatever you’re doing, videos, the hook is one of the most important principles, especially in the beginning that you can use to hook your reader’s attention in today’s world.

So how do you actually create the perfect hook?

Number one: Relevancy.

Your hook needs to raise a question that is relevant to your reader; not relevant to you, relevant to your reader or your audience. It really works for marketing in email, in nonfiction, because you know your reader,  ideally, you know your reader, you know what the problem is that they’re trying to solve or that you are trying to solve for them.

So the first question, the hook needs to be really relevant to your reader. In fiction, it’s a bit more tricky. So you need to raise a question that really contains tension, that also is relevant to the genre readers. Ideally, your hook already places the story in a particular genre so that people know: This is something I want to read, or no, this is something that doesn’t interest me.

Because you want the right reader, right? You don’t want to make a promise that you don’t deliver by the end of the story or by the middle of this story because you want good reviews and you want the right readers for your story, be it fiction or nonfiction.

The question needs to be relevant. You need to give some hints. You need to also, with fiction, give a hint into the atmosphere, to the theme of the story. But more importantly, raise a question that’s really interesting and relevant to your reader.

In nonfiction, it’s really good if you use the word you instead of me.

So for example, if I said in my hook: If I never learned this principle, I would never be successful. Still interesting. But not as interesting as when I say: If you don’t learn it, you will never be successful. Or if I said, If I did this, I would die. It’s still interesting, but not as interesting as if I said: If you do this, you will die. Right? So try using, especially with the hook, but actually in everything you do, the word you more than you use the word me or I, because this is really relevant to your reader.

Number two: Briefness.

Make sure that the hook is really clear and that it’s short and that it’s sweet.

Don’t make it like a huge sentence within the sentence within the sentence that when the reader reads it, he’s just like:  What the …? You know?

The reader needs to know exactly what is the question that he needs to ask himself. Be brief, be really clear, be really clear also about who you’re addressing.

So if my first sentence was something like: The SEO engine is getting difficult because the repercussions are so bad, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah …I might understand the hook if I read it twice or three or four times, but, better to say: SEO is dead. And that’s it. It’s an amazing hook because they’re like, what?

Why? Why is SEO dead? I need to read on! I need to have this question answered. And you instantly understand, the question is really clear. It’s really brief and it’s not confusing to the reader. So make sure that your hook is brief. And clear.

Number three: Boldness.

Don’t be afraid to make bold claims.

Don’t be afraid to raise bold questions. So in order to grab your reader’s attention, it needs to be something really interesting and needs to be something thought-provoking, provocative. Don’t be afraid to provoke. So when I say: SEO is dead, it’s quite provoking. The same’s in fiction.  Don’t go in explaining your world and,  doing a lot of exposition, make something bold, short and interesting that instantly grabs your reader’s attention.

But be aware that there’s a downside to this as well. You need to deliver on those bold claims. It means: if you claim something and if you make a bold claim, make sure that you definitely deliver to the promise that you made to the reader. Because if you don’t, if I say SEO is dead, and then my article or my newsletter or whatever is actually about another thing entirely, then the reader will feel cheated and you don’t want that.

You want to make a bold claim that grabs their attention. As long as you proceed through your story, it needs to get better and better and more interesting in delivering the promise you made in the first place. So my advice is: start with the hook, write your whole story, and then go back again and again to the hook to write it and rewrite it.

This is really important. Don’t just write your hook and be done with it. Don’t be afraid to,  rewrite, to edit your hook and do something about it. Actually do something about it. Don’t be afraid of that. Write and rewrite until you find the perfect way to grab your reader’s attention and to hold it and to not let go.

I hope this principle was helpful. I see you next week with principle number two.

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