This is the latest article from Neil on writing. If you want to create compelling, unputdownable writing. And feel fulfilled by the process, read on below:
This is one of the hacks to addictive, unputdownable writing…
The kind that keeps people hooked, compelled to turn pages.
To be used naturally and sparingly in an otherwise well-written work.
If you’ve read my other blog posts….You already know what it is….
Tip #15: Use open loops to generate excitement
An open loop is created when you start a pathway in conversation—by dropping an alluring hint, or a compelling piece of information—and then switch subjects.
As you keep moving the story forward, there’s a part of the reader’s mind that’s itching to circle back to a good question mark and hear more.
They’re left craving more information to close the loop.
A kind of tension is created within them, which they want to resolve. And they can only find that resolution by reading further.
Think of some of the TV shows people are hooked on. At the very end of an episode, a new piece of information is revealed, or an explosive situation develops, and it cuts to black…
It’s the classic cliffhanger ending. If the viewer wants to see where it goes, and close the loop, then they have to keep watching.
The key is, you have to pay off the open loop. The resolution should satisfy, not disappoint.
Master storytellers can have several loops running parallel at the same time, without closing them until the very end.
And if they choose to do so earlier, it’s not before a new loop has been opened, so there’s always something tugging your attention along.
This is as true for a personal story as it is for a scientific paper. All writing tells a story, and should have a drive pulling the reader through each word.
Managing attention has always been a core skill in writing. But it stands to reason that it’s even more important today, as our attention spans are hijacked by apps that use AI to get us hooked.
But the difference between your writing and these apps is that you’re offering the reader true and consistent value.
As noted above, open loops should never be over-used or forced. To be fully understood and employed well, open loops really must be practiced.
For a previous tip from Neil, check out this post: https://www.neilstrauss.com/writing/showdonttell/