1. Surprise Us
Surprise gets our attention by defying our expectations. We’re wired to immediately start figuring out what’s actually going on, the better to gauge whether we’re about to get whacked or kissed.
That’s exactly how a story grabs the brain’s attention: by instantly letting us know that all is not as it seems – yes, beginning with the opening sentence.
The reader’s first question is: “What’s this story about?” What they’re really asking is: “What problem does the protagonist have to solve, and what will she have to overcome to do it?” This is what’s known as the story problem, and it defines the protagonist’s story-long quest.
Think of the story problem as the yardstick that allows readers to anticipate what will happen next. A story without a yardstick is just a bunch of random events – and how boring is that?
2. Make Us Feel It
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