What constitutes a good read in your opinion? Whatever your favourite type of reading matter, there?s only one thing that keeps you reading until the end. You?ve been hooked.
From the very first paragraph your curiosity has been aroused. You?re being drawn in. You begin to care about what happens next. And the characters involved. In fiction at least.
If you?re writing copy readers still need to be interested enough to read on. Only in this case the main character involved will be them. As far as they?re concerned anyway.
Fictional events and the people involved are a form of escapism for most readers. They become immersed in a world removed from their own, where no matter what things are happening they?re happening to someone else. They might be reading from the comfort and safety of their own armchair, but they still have to care enough about those characters to be willing them to succeed. Or not as the case may be.
Which is why you have to toy with them. Lay a trail of clues for them to follow throughout. If you gave it to them all at once there?d be no story.
The occasional red herring points their imagination one way while you?re subtly leading them in another. But of course it all has to fit in with the rest of it. And don?t forget to tie up all the loose ends. Readers will feel cheated if you?ve led them astray and left them there.
Readers of copy are a different matter of course. If you littered it with hints and false trails they?d give up straightaway. That is definitely not what they?re there for. The first paragraph is where all the answers should be found. Even if they hadn?t thought to ask the question.
But it still has to whet their appetite enough to want to know more. You still have to give them the hook that stops them wriggling away. Whatever someone reads, their minds will be made up sooner rather than later on whether they want to continue. Or give up and find something more suited to their taste.
The first words you write will make all the difference in making that decision.