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Capture Your Reader’s Interest Like a Hollywood Screenwriter
Updated: Dec 13, 2016 / Article by: Lori Soard
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The goal of any good screenwriter, or any writer really, is to grab the reader's attention and keep it until the end. Your goal for your blog should be exactly the same. From the minute the site visitor hits your landing page, his attention should be captured enough that he doesn't leave for a good long while.
Like a good film that leaves you wanting to know more about the characters, view it again, or see the sequel, a good blog will draw in the visitor and make him bookmark your site and sign up for your mailing list.
The Opening Hook
Every great movie has an opening scene that grabs you and makes you want to keep viewing the film. There are a few examples of this technique and there are many ways to make the viewer care.
The 2009 version of Star Trek starring Chris Pine as Captain Kirk sets the tone for the movie by providing a bit of backstory to reboot the series. As a blog owner, you must provide the backstory for your readers. Who are you? Why are you writing this blog? What are the basics of your niche area? Who do you know? Why should the reader care?
The movie Jaws, released in 1975 has a horrific opening scene where a female swimming in the ocean is eaten by a great white shark. If you're scared to venture into the ocean, this movie is likely the reason why. So, what can we learn about blogging from this screenplay (adapted from a novel)? Sometimes you have to scare your readers. This can be done through headlines on a blog. For example, “Top 10 Dangers of XX” or “Why Not Doing X Could Be the Biggest Mistake of Your Career”.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Any in the Raiders of the Lost Ark series will throw you right into the action from the first moment of the movie and the clip above is no exception. Adventurer Indiana Jones, played by actor Harrison Ford, makes a poor decision which lends to edge of your seat nail biting as you wait to see how he'll get himself out of this terrible situation.
How can you implement this for your blog writing? Throw the reader into a case study type situation. Set up a worst case scenario and then explain how the blogger can work himself out of that situation.
These are just a few of the examples of what you can do to hook your reader from the minute she hits your site. If you can hook her in the first few seconds, she'll likely hang around a while. You can also use humor, state a startling fact or anything that will grab her.
The Right Genre
According to the BBC, the global market has started to change Hollywood. The Motion Picture association released figures that indicate the majority of box office sales are now from global markets versus only domestic. Because of this, the types of movies being released are changing. There are some genres that just do better on a global scale than other genres.
If you love romances or comedies, you've probably noticed not many of those types of movies are being released. There seems to be a flood of science fiction, fantasy and dramatic movies. Super heroes are suddenly all the rage. The reason for this shift is the shift to a more global outreach by Hollywood.
This can be translated into your blog as well. If you are just starting out, every genre out there is available to you. Some genres naturally generate more traffic than others. For example, business and technology are two very popular genres.
However, you also have to have a passion for your topic. Smart marketing and the right type of content can overcome even a less popular topic, within reason. Jerry Low recently shared his experiences with his first website, where he had narrowed his niche so much that it wasn't working.
Really great screenplays have amazing characters that you remember for years to come. The 1980 film The Shine, starring Jack Nicholson is a good example of unforgettable characters. Jack Nicholson plays Jack Torrance, a writer who goes crazy via the help of some not-so-well-intentioned ghosts.
Who could forget Nicholson's performance as he chops through a door and says, “Here's Johnny.” Of course, the moment is scary (or was years ago, maybe not so much now), but why does the viewer care really? We have come to know this couple. Their hopes and dreams were shared. We know that he is usually a good husband and father, but this is really out of character for him.
In a nutshell, your reader needs to know who you are. Post bios on your website. Share a few personal details, such as that you love to go skydiving in a different location each year or the title of your favorite book. Anyone who writes for your blog should stand out with a bio, photo and at least some tidbit of information that isn't readily available elsewhere.
A while back, I wrote an article about using hooks and hangers in your writing. In movies, you'll see hangers most often at the end of a movie that is the first in a series. For example, in The Hunger Games, Katniss survives the hunger games and even manages to take Peta out with her.
However, there is trouble in paradise. The Capital is not happy about her disobedience. Katniss is warned that even though she has another love interest, Gale, she better appear the love struck fool over Peta, at least in public. The viewer is left knowing that the Capital will likely seek some type of revenge.
This is called a hanger and it brings the viewer back in movies. You can use hangers on your website to pull the reader back to your blog. There are several ways you can accomplish this:
Let your readers know you'll have a surprise for them next week. Make sure you follow up on your promise.
Write a series of articles and let the reader know there is a new part coming, when and what they will learn in that article.
The key to a good hanger is capturing their interest, giving them something valuable and leaving them wanting more.
Getting The Word Out to an Audience
The best movie in the world will flop at the box office if no one knows it is out or what it is about. Just as it is important that a movie be promoted, your blog needs to be promoted as well. Announce posts on social media and reach out to those in your social circles to let them know what you have to offer. Your site may just wind up being the next blockbuster blog.
About Lori Soard
Lori Soard has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 1996. She has a bachelor's in English Education and a PhD in Journalism. Her articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines, online and she's had several books published. Since 1997, she has worked as a web designer and promoter for authors and small businesses. She even worked for a short time ranking websites for a popular search engine and studying in-depth SEO tactics for a number of clients. She enjoys hearing from her readers.