October 24, 2017

Write cliff-hangers

External transitions move readers from section to section

Talk about a transition. Here’s how author Erik Larson ends one chapter of Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America:

Write cliff-hangers

Change the subject External transitions thrust readers forward beyond the ends of chapters or sections. Image by BradFord Bell

“‘Would the thin rods (of the first Ferris wheel) be sufficient to sustain not only the enormous weight of the structure and that of the 2,000 passengers who might chance to be in the cars, but the pressure of the wind as well?’ a reporter asked. … In three weeks, that question would find an answer.”

Transitions like Larson’s thrust the reader forward — from the end of one section to the beginning of the next. And that’s the job of external transitions: keeping the reader’s attention beyond a natural stopping point.

That means external transitions need to work harder than internal transitions, which just move the reader from sentence to sentence or paragraph to paragraph.

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“The beginning isn’t simply the first in a series of events, but the originating event of all that follows. The middle isn’t just the next event, but the story’s central struggle. And the ending isn’t just the last event, but the culminating event.”
— Steven James, author and writer

Think Outside the Pyramid

Increase engagement, readership, sharing and more

“Everything that happens in the world is absolutely fascinating,” says an Associated Press reporter, “until you read it in the newspaper.”

Try a new structure

Try a new structure Triangles aren’t the only form. Image by heidi medina

Until, that is, it’s been boiled down into the hierarchical blurtation of facts that is the inverted pyramid.

Why do communicators continue to use a structure that makes fascinating messages dull? After all, there is another option — a structure that’s been proven in the lab to grab readers’ attention, keep them reading longer and leave them feeling more satisfied after they’ve read.

At Master the Art of the Storyteller — our two-day creative writing master class on Feb. 23-24, in Los Angeles and Sept. 25-26 in New York — you’ll learn a structure that can help you make all your messages more fascinating and engaging.

Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Organize your story in six easy pieces with our fill-in-the-blanks template.
  • Test your lead’s attention-getting power against our checklist of elements of a great lead.
  • Walk away with award-winning lead examples to model.
  • Avoid the “muddle in the middle” with five ways to organize the body of your piece.
  • Leave a lasting impression with our three-step test for writing a satisfying ending.

This is the only writing workshop we have planned in Los Angeles in 2017. Don’t miss out on your chance to Master the Art of the Storyteller in Los Angeles. Register now.

“Utterly worthwhile, both to career copywriters and people who just want to communicate more effectively.”
— Meg Elison, social media marketer, Ripple

Polish your skills at these Master Classes

Learn to Master the Art of the Storyteller, Catch Your Readers, Get Clicked, Cut Through the Clutter and more

Register for Master the Art of the Storyteller in Los Angeles: Ann Wylie's creative-writing workshop in Los Angeles on Feb. 23-24, 2017
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Register for Get Clicked, Read, Shared & Liked - Ann Wylie's online-writing workshop in Portland on July 27-28, 2017
Register for Cut Through the Clutter - Ann Wylie's tight-writing workshop in San Francisco on Aug, 17-18, 2017
Register for Master the Art of the Storyteller in New York: Ann Wylie's creative-writing workshop in New York on Sept. 25-26, 2017
Register for Catch Your Readers in Dallas: Ann Wylie's persuasive writing workshop in Dallas on Oct. 16-17
Register for Not Your Father's News Release - Ann Wylie's PR-writing workshop in Kansas City on Nov. 16-17, 2017
Register for Get Clicked, Read, Shared & Liked - Ann Wylie's online-writing workshop in Miami on Dec. 11-12, 2017

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