I like to think I still enjoy the little things in life, and the slower ways of going about doing things, but I know even I get caught in the high speed trap. The pull of instant gratification and the ability to get what we want faster than before.
We get the Internet quicker. You can go through a drive-thru to get that grande Chai tea latte instead of waiting inside. Pizza comes to your front door and if you want to read a book, get it on your Kindle so you can read that first sentence within ten minutes without even setting foot in a store (hey, you can even stay in your pajamas!).
I fall into these traps and as a reader and writer of romance, I know reading audiences do, too. Not everyone, mind you, but many of us want a book to pull us in right away and want that momentum to keep going.
Yes, we must write the story that's on our hearts but we can also be mindful of what readers are looking for.
Why do readers want to get drawn into a novel right away?
The reality is, everything is going faster these days, and most of us have more commitments. And that leaves us less time for the leisure of reading. Less time means we'd better use that time more wisely. Presenting readers with a book that snatches them up and keeps them there is going to make them feel like reading your story is more worthwhile.
A Break from Reality
Again, life gets crazy sometimes. What better to take a break from that than to escape from reality with a book? And if we're going to invest that time, it means that book better draw us in right away.
What will pull readers in and keep them turning page after page?
An Instant Hook
Catch readers from line one and make them stick. That first chapter is important - make sure you give it lots of attention.
Cut Out Backstory
One of the quickest ways to lose a reader is to drop in too much backstory or drop it in too early. Make sure it's gradual and make sure it's minimal - that every flashback or explanation has a point and keeps the reader's attention.
Plenty of Conflict
Not only do readers want tension at the beginning, they want it all the way through the book. So keep that conflict in there and make sure it's balanced throughout the book.
Shorter or Balanced Scenes
One thing to help keeps readers engaged is either writing shorter scenes or paying special attention to balancing scenes. That means not using an entire scene just for description or solely for dialogue. Balance the ups and downs and long and short sentences, etc. also so that the reader doesn't feel stuck with only one style of writing per scene or chapter.
Do you get caught in the high speed trap, and do you want books you read to draw you in immediately and hold you there? What tricks do you use in your writing to keep readers engaged?