A Yak’s Lesson on How to Rope a Reader in…
For those who complain that they have no time to read a whole novel, I’ve come across a lovely little site called YakTale (great name) – where you can take your pick of short stories (from known and unknown writers) listed with the amount of time it takes to actually read it – anywhere between 0 (less than a minute) and 90 minutes. So if you only have 5 minutes to spare, you can in fact narrow your search to bring up only short stories that can be read within that time-frame.
There are some lovely little gems on there so worth taking a look. However, what struck me the most was how the way the collection is presented: each story a small box featuring the title and a one-sentence “synopsis” so to speak, a teaser plot-line to hook you into reading it. This got me thinking about how important that teaser ‘intro’ is. It’s the equivalent of an elevator sales pitch. Someone has 2 minutes to read a short story and you’ve got 2 seconds to hook them into choosing yours. What are you going to call your story, and how are you going to sell it to them?
I was reeled in by the following teasers and whilst the actual stories may or may not have impressed me, the clever marketing of the stories, certainly stayed with me…
Anniversary Dinner at Denny’s: Driving down Route 9, I noticed a couple walking down the side of the road, dressed for Sunday mass. But it was a Tuesday evening.
(Undoubtedly my favourite teaser and would work as a brilliant first line of a novel.)
Anthropomorphic Taxidermy: Romance, house sitting and taxidermy. A winning combination.
(How humour can turn the most unappealing title into something bizarrely intriguing…)
Green Door: She’s watching them. They’re watching her. But, what is going on behind Mrs Dailey’s green door?
(Who is she? Who are They? And yes, what IS going on behind that door…you just feel compelled to find out, don’t you?)
Scroogled: What if Google started working with the Department of Homeland Security?
(Ok, admittedly I probably picked this simply because I love the sound of the word Scroogled. I can’t stop saying it. Scroogled.)
The Coffee Shop: It’s quicker to read the story.
(And so I did.)
Now compare these above to an example of an intro which I don’t think works because I already feel like I know too much about the story. A classic case of when less is more…
By His Things Will You Know Him: A funeral becomes an occasion for a son to understand his father’s life through the clutter he leaves behind, with help from a new technology to add digital meaning to physical stuff
Chiara Priorelli, Publicity & Online Marketing Manager