What You Can Learn from the Vampire Diaries about Keeping Readers Engaged

If you’re a fan of the Vampire Diaries, then you understand the intricate twists and turns the script writers of this series made that kept fans on the edge of their seats. There are a lot of tricks these writers used that you can put into your own blogging and keep your readers engaged week after week, month after month and year after year.

“This town needs a bit of a wake-up call, don’t you think?”- Damon Salvatore, Season 1, Episode 02

Just in case you haven’t seen the Vampire Diaries, the story is about a young girl who meets a vampire (sounds familiar), but then she meets his brother and thus begins a love triangle. However, the story line involves a lot of other twists, including doppelgangers, witches, ghosts, werewolves, and all kinds of other magical qualities that somehow all twist and turn and come together into a story that keeps the viewer/reader’s interest.

Your Wake-Up Call

Is your blog a bit, well, boring? One way to easily tell if you are keeping your readers engaged is by looking at your bounce rate. You can find this information through Google Analytics. For example, are visitors coming to your site, staying a split second and then bouncing away?

According to an article on Time by Tony Haile, you have about 15 seconds at the most to grab a reader’s attention and keep it.

In the Vampire Diaries episode titled “The Night of the Comet” (season 1), the opening scene is of a man and woman camping in the woods. A creepy fog immediately surrounds them and the opening dialogue is the woman saying: “Did you hear that?”

Of course, the writers have our attention. Who could help but continue reading/viewing with an opening like that?
Are your openings engaging? It is vital to keep your readers interested with hooks and hangers throughout your writing. Check out Jerry Low’s article Write Headlines Like Brian Clark, Neil Patel, and Jon Morrow: 35 Headline Samples From The A-List Bloggers.

Plot Twist!

The Vampire Diaries is known for plot twists. A great plot twist doesn’t just change the game, but makes perfect sense to the viewer/reader. Caution! In case you haven’t seen all of the episodes there is a spoiler ahead, so skip over the next paragraph if you don’t want to know what happens yet.

Spoiler: From Katherine not being in the tomb, to Bonnie faking her own death, to Elena turning into a vampire, the show is filled with twist after twist. Probably one of the biggest twists of all time is at the end of Season 6 when Kai puts Elena into a deep, sleeping beauty sleep that she will not awake from until Bonnie dies. Talk about your ultimate revenge. He just separated Elena and Damon (again) and hurt Bonnie in the process because she’ll never see Elena again (Or will she? Perhaps another plot twist?).

Plot twists require looking at a topic in a truly unique and different way. They still have to make sense to the reader and be something that could happen in the world that has been set up. However, the goal is to surprise the reader.

For a blog, there are a few ways you can surprise and delight your readers and thus throw in a “plot twist” of sorts. However, keep in mind that your twist has to make sense. You can’t run a horse blog and suddenly offer something about makeup tips.

  • Give away a freebie.
  • Offer an unexpected discount.
  • Invite a guest speaker to do an online chat.
  • Offer a workshop or teleconference.
  • Offer a video showing how to do something.
  • Purchase a drone and take shots from a different angle and upload them.
  • Invite a guest blogger to your site.
  • Add a pop up for every so many guests, giving them a freebie.
  • Send a personal note to your top customers.

The Characters

One of the main reasons people keep watching Vampire Diaries and it is in its seventh season is because of the characters. Viewers have gotten to know, and love those characters.

  • The characters have depth. When Damon is hurt, he will act out. When Stephan is hurt, he will brood but eventually bounce back. Caroline is the good girl. Elena is spunky.
  • We know what has hurt them. Elena lost her parents and blames herself, etc.
  • We know their quirks. Damon is sarcastic and makes us laugh. Elena will do anything for those she loves. Caroline wants things to be perfect.

How does this translate to your blog? Your readers need to get to know you on a personal level. Or, if you have a team, they need to know your writers. This involves several elements:

  • Photos of your writers and you.
  • Biographies that share a bit about each one.
  • A unique voice. The best writers have a strong voice that you can easily recognize. Their work is fairly consistent no matter what topics they write about.
  • Your writers simply must get personal at times. Academics will tell you to never use “you” in your writing. Yet, if you want your writing to seem personal on a blog, it is important to have a conversation with your readers. In fact, I’d say it is far more important to be personal than to be correct.
  • Sharing experiences. It is important that you and your writers are willing to share where they’ve failed and where they have succeeded so that readers know they can trust the advice they are getting.

Don’t Let Your Blog Suck the Life Out of You

Blog writers (and script writers) can spend so much time creating content that they begin to feel burned out. If you spend day after day in front of your computer without a break, you will likely begin a struggle to come up with anything interesting to write about.

If you find yourself sitting in front of your keyboard, unable to type anything, it is time to refill your creative well. Julia Cameron talks about refilling your creative well in her book “The Artist’s Way.” It is vital that creative people spend some time doing other activities to avoid becoming blocked.

Take a walk, visit a museum, or maybe spend a little time with Ian Somerhalder (Damon) watching the latest episode of Vampire Diaries. You’ll be surprised how quickly you find inspiration for your writing and business.