Sunday, July 8, 2012

What We Can Learn From The Radio

Writers often wonder and ponder the best way to draw in a reader. What's the best hook? How do they suck someone into their world? This is a good thing to consider, but often they don't consider what they need to do to keep people there. Have them sit in their seats and be rapt the entire time. I feel a big lesson can be learned from another medium, the radio. Specifically, commercial talk radio.
You see, in commercial talk radio, it is very hard to have a successful show. Saying outrageous things can only get you so far. So, DJ's learn the art of "the tease." It's that moment where a commercial break is about to come up and they say "coming up after the break, we're going to have in the studio... a man who has a chunk of JFK's brain in a jar. We're going to ask him how he got it and what he's done with it." Well, people sitting in their cars might just stay tuned to that station, they don't want to miss a minute of hearing what that lunatic is doing with JFK's brain!
Teasing is done across all mediums, especially competitive reality TV. How many times have you heard something along the lines of: "...and after this quick commercial break, we're going to find out who gets cut from the show and who will advance to the next round." If you are invested in the characters of that show, you're going to want to stay tuned.
We've all had books we just could not put down. I feel that a lot of these books that people just have to read through in a few nights are from writers who have mastered the art of the tease. They treat the end of chapters as that upcoming commercial break. You can imagine in chapter 10 a major character dies mysteriously, an announcer pops into your mind and says: "Stay tuned until the next chapter where we find out why this character died!" It's one of those teases where, it's 1AM and you've stayed up way too late, but... you have to get through this commercial break just to find out that one small conclusion. It may not even be the main thrust of the book, but it's one of the books many little mysteries.
So, we can learn from the radio that you can hook people in by speaking your mind but a lot of books really need a tease with it... much like most radio shows. Now if you'll return to this blog tomorrow, I'll prove to you beyond a shadow of a doubt that we never landed on the moon!

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