Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Writing to be read!

Here’s a thought…in today’s busy world, in order to capture the reader’s attention you need to persuade the reader to spend his or her time with you. I’m reducing Andrew Coyne’s column in today’s Ottawa Citizen to a one-liner when in fact, he goes on for many print inches about this topic. He was talking about journalists and how, when there are so many other distractions out there (and even within the newspaper), each writer needs to do something, write something, in some manner that will be an attention-grabber and keep that reader hooked to the end.

Now, blogs are similar to columns. So I read this with great interest. Besides, I like his writing style. Two points in favour of my reading the column. But more to the point, I was hoping to gain some useful tips.

Another thing he points out is that in order to persuade the reader to spend time with the writer, the least said writer can do is “make himself agreeable company. People choose a writer, that is, rather in the same way they choose a friend.” Hmmm. So, treat them with respect, don’t shout at them, and give them something, “a paradox, a laugh, a fact they didn’t know.” Okay, I get it. What’s good for a column is good for a blog.

But let’s take it a step further. What’s good for a column and a blog is good for a short story and a novel.

We’re all in the same business here. We’re competing for those precious few minutes, hopefully hours, that the reader is able to allocate to reading…the column, the blog, the book. We compete with the myriad of electronics, the crunch of real life, and the crush of time. So it makes sense we give the reader something of value in exchange for that time.

We spend all those hours, days, weeks, months and years creating all those mystery and crime novels that will be read in a mere matter of hours, days and weeks perhaps. But if we do our job well enough, that reader will be back for more. Because we’re now friends and you want to spend time with a friend, and hear/read his or her story. And that writer wants to hear from the reader and hopefully, keep writing the kind of books that will make this a long-time relationship.

Sure, writers write what they want or need to say. But writers also write to be read. Did this blog persuade you? To read Coyne's column go to:

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase
A Killer Read coming April, 2012
from Berkley Prime Crime

1 comment:

  1. I read this column this morning too, in the National Post. I thought it was insightful. Lots of people talk about making your readers your "friends" and they're right. Andrew Coyne put it in such a useful way. We have to "buy" that reader's time. Difficult to do, but not impossible. I also loved the way he ended the article with his trick to keep the reader reading - save the best for the last words.