SUMMARY: Ed Wilson talks about connecting with readers
There may be many reasons why people read what an author writes. For some, it is “Oh wow, it is the new book by insert favorite author name here.” For blog writers, it may be because they have made the start page of their internet browser to be the blog home page. Or maybe they made the blog home page a favorite. It could even be that when they use an internet search engine, it takes them to the blog because it contains information they want or need.
Whether it is fiction, or non-fiction, people read for a reason. For non-fiction, most of the time, it is because they seek information. They need to know how to do something, or they are wanting to learn something. For fiction, it may be because they seek entertainment, an escape, a diversion, or a particular emotional experience.
At any rate, it is important to get into the information or experience as quickly as possible. For example, nothing is more frustration than to buy a technical book, written by a luminary in the field, and the book is so poorly written, or so poorly organized, that the information one seeks is buried, or hidden. It is a fact that most technical books are not read cover to cover. They are perused. Keep near by like trusted advisors, and consulted whenever the need arises. Unfortunately, with most technical subjects, those needs arise at inopportune times, on disruptive schedules, and during seasons of heighten demands upon systems.
So for technical writing, make sure the subject is broken into logical units of information, and organized in a useful arrangement. Often, that arrangement will take the form of building blocks. So that the earlier topics help to provide the foundation for the later topics.
For fiction, I want to get to the action as quickly as possible. I do not like novels that begin with the birth of the protagonist, followed by elementary, junior high, and high school. There is a real good chance that I would toss the book aside before the main character ever got potty trained.
The best thing, for fiction, is to begin in the middle of the action. Then bring in back story if necessary, in very small chunks. Useful techniques include inner monologue, flash backs, and conversation. Each technique requires special handling.
For non-fiction, is is very useful to begin at the beginning, and then to progress up to a fully developed system. Please, don’t begin in the niddle, and then say some thing like “do this …” and then on the next page say, “But first …..” Because dude, by that time I have probably already broken the thing. I like to follow along when I read technical books, and I assume that most people are likewise doing the same.