The Know-How of Attracting and Keeping a Reader s

             The Know-How of Attracting and Keeping a Reader’s Attention

by Griffin Garcon (please email me for permission if you'd like to use it)

The Know-How of Attracting and Keeping a Reader’s Attention is essentially the idea of four codes.

It can also be described as a kaleidoscope of codes, where every time you shake the tube, another breathtaking pattern appears, and none of them will ever repeat.

What do Four Codes do?
They can break ANY writer’s block, and turn your stagnation of creativity into a river of talented writing.
They are the magic keys to Attract Attention of the reader.

So, let’s begin. The majority of amateur writers just sits down and WRITES. Right? Wrong. You do not just sit down and write about stuff that you see in your mind’s eye. Because you might not be doing it correctly. I spent years analyzing the most popular books, and came to a conclusion, that is not immediately obvious to a lot of people.

What makes a book interesting? And here I’m talking ONLY about sci-fi, fiction, fantasy and so on.
What makes those books interesting is the codes. I gave them abbreviations that would be easy to remember, and easy to use while coaching a writer. Or checking yourself… So, we have 1S (for Suspense, anticipation, mystery) 2D (for Drama, love) 3F (for Fear) 4A (for Action). Recently due to a popular demand I added 5L (separate code for Love, hot, steamy, balmy affair! – but it’s optional).

Why 1234? Well, there are four of them, and there are four files, associated with them in an Excel spreadsheet, but that’s later. What else do we have, that the codes do not include? Philosophy and Humor. Feel free to add those to the mixture, if you’d like. But these are not the essentials.

Let’s look at the examples. Stephen King. Why is he so popular? Ah, code 1S, and, of course code 3F. Someone closer to our age? E.L. James, “50 Shades of Gray”. I love that book. It contains pretty much nothing but code 1S. With her, it’s “S” for sex, but that’s not the point. It’s ANTICIPATION of something that this code also includes. 

What of that, you say, we read these guys up and down, we KNOW they use that. But do you think of it while writing? Do you realize you can’t just write about stuff without actually writing in codes instead of your thoughts? Or, rather, convert your thoughts into codes. The Four Codes are the interface between you and the reader. It is the glue that attaches the reader to your writing. Unbreakable glue of “My house is burning, but I don’t care, I need to finish reading this page!!!”

Shall we refresh ourselves with another great example? J.K. Rowling. Did not read her? Stuff for kids? Too low for you? Not the right attitude. She is a successful writer, and every aspiring fiction amateur must read at least one of the books. I’ll let you guess the code she writes in. It is 1S. Suspense, anticipation. It’s 4A, too. But mostly – we look forward to stuff…

You fly through the book not because you care about the wizard boy, but because the code carries you through. You WANT to know what happened. Bum! She made millions without saying much. Suspense without substance is a little offensive, but a very correct motto for a writer who wants to be popular.

I was trained in Russian philosophy. It was hard for me to betray the substance for the sake of suspense (or any other of the four codes). And if you, like me, believe that keeping the reader in a state of fear artificially is lewd, think again. Mr. King made millions doing just that. You can’t argue with the number.

Allright, so we learned that. Cool. How do we use it without copying the works of S. King and J. K. Rowling in its entirety?! Ahh, the codes are just pieces for the key. You don’t have to copycat the abovementioned respected authors for your work to be as engaging and successful. The key itself is the algorithm you create based on those pieces.

I usually write a separate algorithm for each chapter in an Excel program, but if that’s too complicated, all you need to do is mix and match ingredients (codes) for a drink with the taste, that your readers will like.

We have 1S, 2D, 3F, 4A. Want the easiest combination? Just repeat them in this order. Over, and over, and over. That’s it. What’s the catch? Try not to dwell on each of the codes for a long time. No reader wants to be tethered to one situation for three pages straight. Make them run. Show them stuff.

Such writing is not easy, and will take a lot out of you, but it will be very rewarding, when your friends\family will actually read your work, and then read some more, instead of pretending to read, or avoiding you altogether, in fear of you chasing them with yet another printout…

Say, you want to write about your heroes on a mission. Start with 1S, and create suspense in the first passage. Make that passage only three sentences long. “They walked out of the forest, and it was getting dark way too fast. They would never make it to the spaceship in the darkness.”

Switch to 2D RIGHT AWAY: “Aries looked at James and could not believe how haggard he was looking already.

“You’re losing energy again. But no matter what, I love you. We’ll get there in time!”
The trees above them whispered fearfully only to witness the friends kiss each other with passion.” Sorry, I only write gay sci-fi… ;. That’s it. Move to 3F. “The darkness was closing in. It brought uneasy feeling of danger that had no face.” Here we can elaborate on danger depending on your style, but don’t dwell on it. The reader wants to know, what else?

Ah, 4A. Action! The danger of your choice came, and made them run. They ran until they saw the spaceship looming huge at the edge of a field… Describing running, riding fast, flying, mesmerizes the reader. So what, if it feels like a clich;…? A boy on a broom was a funny clich;, but J.K. Rowling was not intimidated. She turned out to be right. She laughed all the way to the bank!

Well, do not fall into too many clich;s, come up with new plots, heroes, ideas. The codes will see you through all the way to reader’s attention. Sometimes a real life kaleidoscope helps “see” stuff you could not imagine. But that’s another conversation on breaking a writer’s block and coming up with amazing images.
Here is a short crash course on how to build your own algorithm for a chapter of a novel, a short story, or anything you want.

                WORDS FOR SUSPENSE (1S)
1S Grotesque misty odd dark homeless alert
1S jittery deep mysterious distinct creepy disturbed
1S Slimy cloudy nervous silent puzzled screeching
1S Immortal unexplainable wandering slippery unavoidable filthy
1S Dead old soft ancient worried doubtful ringing 
1S strange difficult wide-eyed unusual wild hollow
1S High narrow unknown extraordinary emanating
1S Shallow unseen worrysome hot shallow high-pitched
1S Enchanted Large melted crowded rainy shivering
1S whispering  sharp dirty chilly empty wet  startled
1S quiet damp resonant weird low unsafe
1S weak dangerous late fragile hissing poised to flee
1S faint hushed cold wandering rob of innocence ghostly
1S Mystic unsolved illusion blurry unrecognizable psychic

                WORDS FOR DRAMA, TRAGEDY (2D)
2D helpless fervent grumpy angry depressed unbearable sad
2D troubled handsome ugly excited fancy obnoxious
2D immune anxious mushy grieving annoyed shocked
2D elegant outrageous repulsive selfish expensive sore
2D ashamed poor bewildered shy excessive stupid fat rich healthy
2D Calm attractive charming average old-fashioned envious
2D famous gifted helpful cute lovely important adorable
2D foolish lively easy short beautiful clean uncontrollable
2D blue-eyed colorful blushing faithful delightful determined
2D gentle fully bitter sweet silky detrimental solid tension
2D substantial pitiful behind-the-scenes defeated abandoned expressive
2D Concerned tragic highest uncalled-for inconsolable
2D Forced saturated stuck-up lonely harsh obvious incompatible

3F aggressive motionless cautious awful empty hungry terrible
3F Thunderlike damned un-human devilish bottomless hellish bad
3F Saturated icy-cold evil out-of-reach numberless damaging raspy
3F Numerous squealing thundering final voiceless immeasurable
3F Magic unthinkable isolated in vain limitless muddy 
3F bloody frantic condemned black frightened screaming
3F demonic high echo dizzy tense scary menacing
3F scattered broken shaky dusty freezing heavy transfixed
3F wicked shrill absolute rotten sticky fluttering
3F hurt sick\ill cruel dangerous moaning abruptly
3F cross-fire mute bog unexpected damaging all-seeing
3F panicky smoggy horrible helpless massive endless burning
3F desolate wilted cursed prickly hoarse distinct sinister

                WORDS FOR ACTION (4A)
4A adventurous fast arrogant flying suddenly violent wild
4A Clear bumpy courageous encouraging bright fantastic
4A gigantic tough immense crazy defiant all-powerful
4A fleeting avalanche swooping down unrealistic intense hectic
4A glorious rough breezy abundant speed noisy sparkling
4A beckoning energetic numberless strong free colossal
4A brave quick swift fierce super pursuit moved by
4A rapid faraway vast weightless much-desired big fire-breathing
4A vast dynamic whirlwind indescribable tireless
4A deafening unexpectedly riding impossible run endless
4A straight through unrelenting vivid like an eagle heroic unstoppable
4A victorious lucky perfect relieved loud steep wide escape broad curved
4A extreme can't be measured absolute powerful stormy unbreakable

                ADDITIONAL CODES:
                ENCHANCING WORDS (AC):
AC shocking piercing fresh wide shining beckoning
AC stunning rare multicolored holy melodic laced brave
AC fierce sparkling tender enchanted hot clandestine
AC colorful chosen secret magic crystal emanating
AC powerful out of the ordinary delightful unusual charming
AC blinding linger sunlight courageous attractive endless
AC starlit eerie universal immortal fantastic juicy
AC flames miraculous moonlight inebriated
AC inseparable flowering genuine rhythmic
AC rainbow mystic dancing fragrant
AC huge healing bright unique tales of myth

EM strong top beautiful handsome hungry thirsty tired busy
EM Big fast difficult hot good old pretty
EM Short happy fat dark full funny dirty 
EM Interesting large cheap weak high deep healthy
EM Great friendly favorite little small tall\long slow
EM Poor different hard bottom free sick\ill
EM rich late soft easy clean safe early
EM cold bad new young ugly thin\skinny sad
EM empty light serious boring expensive low shallow

So let’s put together an algorithm, shall we? A simple repetition of the codes is a good beginning, but later on you will be able to put in ANY combination to set ANY mood for your reader. With algorithms you not only control the reader’s mood and attention, but just about everything in his mind. You mix the drink any way you want. The main ingredient is readability, of course. Inebriate the reader with your style. All the tools are here.
1S+2D+3F+4A+AC – Ok, this is the algorithm. Now we need to infuse it with the codes.

Here we go:

1S Grotesque misty odd dark homeless alert
2D helpless fervent grumpy angry depressed unbearable sad
3F aggressive motionless cautious awful empty hungry terrible
4A adventurous fast arrogant flying suddenly violent wild
AC shocking piercing fresh wide shining beckoning

Why numbers in the beginning of each line? So you do not get lost at which code words you’re putting into the sentence. You need to create a certain mood, this is what the reader is after. So the mood-creating codes need to be very separate in your head, like salt\sugar\spices in cook’s mind. What happens if he forgets and just pours everything without measure? Not good eats. Same with your work.

Ok, the algorithm is in place. Imagination is not really your friend? You got in a fight with your inspirational muse and she moved in with the guy next door? Writer’s block is the name of your street? No worries. The algorithm will take care of all this.
Paste the abovementioned five lines in the beginning of a scary white page, and storm it like there is no tomorrow!

1S Grotesque misty odd dark homeless alert
2D helpless fervent grumpy angry depressed unbearable sad
3F aggressive motionless cautious awful empty hungry terrible
4A adventurous fast arrogant flying suddenly violent wild
AC shocking piercing fresh wide shining beckoning

“The sun goes down, and long, grotesque shadows fall on the grasses of the field as I walk into the misty forest. Why does Hena need me to be here? She fervently believes that the spaceship is somewhere in this wilderness. I try not to be angry with her, but the whole search looks pointless and becomes more and more unbearable.

It gets darker, and I move on cautiously. I’m supposed to track the sound of tellurium, but I can’t hear it. A motionless figure stands by a tree. It was not here before. I approach the figure and look into a ghostly face of a woman.

Suddenly the memories flood me in a fast, relentless wave. I feel like I’m flying through a whirling tunnel, and fall right back, dazed, but happy. It is my mother. She beckons me, and I follow her into a big clearing, where I get the shock of my life.
A huge black thing is sitting right in the middle of the clearing. My eyes must grow wide with utter surprise, as she smiles with that sweet, kind smile I remember from when I was a child.

“Here is the spaceship, Demi. My father took me here many times as a girl. It is yours now. Use it as you see fit.”

The spaceship is magnificent in its powerful appearance, and I admire it, dead to the world.

“But how did it…” I turn to my mother, and she is no longer there.
A door opens somewhere in the middle of the ship, and the white light floods the surroundings. I see two figures walking into the opening door – a tall man, who holds a small girl by the hand. The girl turns around and waves at me, as they disappear suddenly. The light goes out. Hena wanted my spaceship, but I got so much more. I just witnessed a long-forgotten scene from my mother’s life. The life of a girl, whose father was an alien.”

Done with this passage? Writer’s block is setting in again like concrete around your ankles about to pull you in the depths of desperation? Here is where the idea of the kaleidoscope we mentioned in the beginning comes handy. Shake it up, and a new pattern will appear.

Take more lines from the codes, create another algorithm, go on.
Remember that the codes are only the loom for your thread. They do not create a thread of a plot for you. When I fed the information into the algorithm just now, I already had a plot. The plot is your responsibility.

But it sure is easier to come up with one when you’ve already put together the algorithm. Plus, whatever you’ve written with the use of the codes is almost guaranteed to grasp the attention of the reader.

No more relatives and friends filing a restraining order against you because you’ve chased them down the street begging to take a look at yet another printout of your work no one finds interesting… It is going to be different from now on. After you learn how to use the codes, your friends might be chasing you, begging to read just one more page! Your path to successful publishing should begin somewhere here.

Copyrighted material. ©Iziran Artworks