Getting your readers’ attention

I freely admit that as a teacher, I don’t always read my kids’ papers that closely, especially late work.  I skim it to make sure it’s done, then slap a grade on it and move on.

Today I came across this:

12.  List four tips for students who want to demonstrate leadership qualities.
Try your hardest, dont get in tourble, don’t smoke crack, and keep your head up.

While technically true that yes, good leaders shouldn’t smoke crack, it’s definitely not an answer from their class notes.  But it made me pay attention, and I read the rest of the paper very closely looking for more unorthodox answers.

So what’s the point of this, and what does it have to do with writing?

When someone’s reading a novel, there might be parts they skip over – long paragraphs of descriptions, fight scenes, or mundane dialogue.  But as writers, we want readers to devour our every word.  So throw in a bit of the unexpected, not just as words in a paragraph but as plot twists.  As character quirks.  Give your readers a reason to pay close attention to your story, rather than viewing it as a mindless throw away story.

What are some unexpected things you like in stories, either from the reader’s or writer’s perspective?

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