MarketSmiths Guest Post: How to Seduce your Reader

We asked Laurie Stone, writer of fiction, literary non-fiction, and criticism, for some notions about what keeps writing dramatic and compelling. Here’s the prose that spilled forth:

“If every utterance is a story, what kind of story do you want to tell?” By Laurie Stone

In the flesh, there is smell and a splash of light across a cheek, an arched eyebrow, a firm hand brushing your back.

On the page, words, alone, prod and caress. We’re in a room. What lies behind the door? What do you see through the window?

  • A lonely man writes to someone he believes understands him. Will the letter arrive? Will he receive a response?
  • Lovers on the verge of boredom argue about music and tumble back to bed. When they untangle their limbs, will they slink off to opposite corners or feel a renewed urgency to explore? Will their differences alienate or intrigue them, or both?

Each word the writer lays down is part of a bread crumb trail, enticing the reader on. Each sentence is a small provocation with a questioning tail. The job of the writer is to arouse the reader’s desire to know more. To get the reader to ask, “Then what happened?” To arouse the reader’s memories and associations. To get the reader to feel.

Another way to put this is: How do we make the reader believe the story is about the reader? If writing is a seduction, and in that sense a kind of performance, what tools of artifice does the writer have? Really: only words, each one leading to the next, as if the pattern were inevitable and at the same time surprising.

The more we can create a world of concrete images and detailed sense memory—what sounds and colors and smells are circulating in a recorded moment?—the greater our chances of turning the reader into a willing captive.”

We couldn’t have said it better—about copy. Writers unite, and let’s raise the bar for one, for all.

Jean Tang

Jean Tang

A champion of high-end content, Jean is a living tribute to copywriting for humans. In 2012, at a TEDx talk, she declared her now widely viewed “War Against Bland.” The visionary founder of MarketSmiths, Jean leads her growing team to captivate, inspire, and motivate readers. She has helped thousands of global clients generate revenue from words (up to 12,000% ROI), and transformed the writing of hundreds of seminar attendees at the SXSW Interactive Festival (2014 and 2015), SXSW V2V (2014), the Small Business Summit (2014, NYC), and other venues.

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