I hadn’t planned to see the movie at all. I loved Shakespeare, but Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo? No thanks. But a last minute invitation with a free ticket attached had me in the theater seat next to my friend Matty when the lights went down. A tiny TV screen appeared on the big screen with a news broadcast:
Two households, both alike in dignity
in fair Verona where we lay our scene,
from ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
Then a swell of music and dizzying flurry of images across the screen, finally settling on a group of tattooed guys shouting out Shakespearean insults in a way that felt wholly fresh and modern: “A dog of the house of Capulet moves me!”
I didn’t breathe for two hours. “Well? Did you like it?” Matty asked. I could not even find the words to answer. To this day, Romeo + Juliet is one of my favorite movies, and by far my most memorable experience in the cinema.
Baz Luhrmann knows how to create an experience in film. Through sound, color, and other tricks of the trade that someone like me couldn’t even pinpoint. He has a distinct style that carries through his movies, from the manic and madcap Strictly Ballroom to the outrageous and over-the-top Moulin Rouge.
This distinct personal flair is what we talked about in writing as voice last week. But beyond Luhrmann’s style, his films have a way of grabbing and keeping you. In Romeo + Juliet the loud opening gas station scene soon gives ways to quieter, more introspective moments. By then, Luhrmann has acclimated us to iambic pentameter and married it to his distinctly modern Verona.
The idea of a hook is pretty common, from commercials to short stories to news articles. It’s an opening that doesn’t just draw you in, it yanks you in so effectively that you don’t even know how it happened— you’re simply weeping at scrawny, starving puppy’s sad eyes while Sarah Mclachlan’s “Angel” plays softly.
One of the things that makes a hook so vital to a blog post is that the average time spent on a site is often under two minutes. Two minutes. Last month, the average time spent on my site (according to Google Analytics) was one minute, twenty-seven seconds. Which means that the majority of people would not still be reading this post right now. Without a hook, you will lose your already fickle readers. It is simply too easy to click away.
We suffer from an epidemic of internet ADD: with something like 5-20 browser tabs open, we do nothing but click, click, click. Navigate in, navigate away. A hook at the beginning of the post stills that hovering finger over the button on the mouse to head to the next site.
A hook can be dropping the reader right in the middle of a scene (my technique in this post) like Peach from 50Peach did in last week’s link-up. There were tears and almost immediate dialogue, creating a sense of curiosity to the larger story and at the same time, bringing us intimately close. Laura from Blogging Blackbird began directly with dialogue, creating that same effect.
Amy from Middle of the Mess began with a question, another great hook. A well-formed question creates a sense of urgency to answer and a connection to the asker as well. Kami from Zoetica Media employed a photo with the popular hashtag #winning, drawing the readers in with a sense of familiarity before the words even began. With a blog being more than simply a written genre, photos or images can be a great way to bring in and keep your audience (as Roxy from GrrFeisty did with her gorgeous images throughout her post).
What would keep you reading? What might keep you from clicking away before the two minute mark?
This week’s prompt: Drive.
Any definition of the word will do. Again, I want the prompt to be a springboard and a general spurring-on of thought that can go in any direction that fits with your blog. This week, as you write about drive, think about how you begin. Consider what tools you might use to draw in and keep your readers on your page. Each week when I write about writing and blogging, I hope that these topics and tools become familiar in your hands as you write. Don’t forget about voice, but as you write this week, keep that hook in mind. (Now we are ALL going to be paranoid about our openings, aren’t we??)
***I’ve been a little out of the blogging and internet sphere as we are doing the whole selling-our-house-buying-another thing, so I am JUST NOW getting around to reading and sharing last week’s posts. Math isn’t my strong suit, but there were 16 links last week and some blogs are only getting a fraction of that in comments. PLEASE READ ALL THE LINKS. Even if it takes you until the next week’s prompt (like me this week). I want this to be a community, not a place to just dump your own link. If you visit, take the time to comment. If you love something, show the love by sharing.***
-Write in ANY genre, but at least loosely find inspiration from the prompt.
-Please include a link to this post or use the handy button over in my main sidebar. If you don’t, I’ll politely ask, and if you still don’t, I’ll un-link you. This just helps keep building the community and bringing new readers to the linky itself.
-Link to your specific post, not to your whole blog.
-Write a new post or use a post that fits from within the last week.
-Please visit ALL the other blogs. A comment is a great way to show you were there and if you love something, share it!
-Don’t be spammy or link to a giveaway or another linky or something weird like that. Just a post.
-Try to find a sweet spot under 1000 words, if possible between 500-750.
-Be free, but don’t be overly violent or sexual or just creepy. This is a varied group, but that’s not the best fit.
Follow the prompts to add your link below. For community sake, use your name or blog name rather than the name of your blog post and choose a photo of you or your logo rather than a photo from the post. That way we begin to recognize each other!