I was up at three in the morning today. What woke me up? A beep.
I had no idea what it was from. I sat up in bed.
And then I went downstairs to see if I could figure out what was going on.
It wasn’t until a few minutes later that I found out it was…
The smoke detector.
Unfortunately, things didn’t end there. I couldn’t figure out what the detector itself was trying to tell me.
I got the manual for the thing. The detector is very sophisticated. Apparently, it’s supposed to actually speak to me if there’s a fire problem, a carbon monoxide problem–heck, even if the battery’s low, or the detector needs to be replaced.
But it wasn’t giving me any of those messages–which according to its book, means we need to look into replacing the thing.
So I had a lot of excitement early this morning, but I’m glad I found out what everything was about, in the end.
And that I didn’t have to rush outside in cold weather wearing less-than-ideal clothing for the situation.
What happened to me is a great framework for emails and fiction.
Why? Let’s check it out, in three simple steps…
Suspense. Just like me rushing downstairs, you need to grab attention with your fiction and emails. And keeping people guessing is a great way to do that. Depending on what you’re writing, dialogue, description, or a great opening statement to an email work well to pump up the suspense factor.
Add the details. When I told you I researched, and what I found out, that helped move things along. That’s what details in your stories and emails should do, like a trail of breadcrumbs.
But make sure those details mean something, and make a connection to the story, or to your prospects (in an email). Aunt Ida’s hash browns might make a great story, but be sure readers won’t be lost if you include it.
Follow-through. Unless I didn’t find out about finally needing to replace the detector, it would have been a bit cheap for me to tell you everything about this morning, and then leave out the ending. You should provide the solution in your story or email–the complete picture–by the end. If you don’t, readers need concrete means to figure things out, and that’s often hard to do.
So the next time you’re looking for a general outline for a story or email, remember suspense, details, follow-through.
Just like checking up on a smoke detector at three in the morning.
If you’ve had an offbeat occurrence that taught you about writing or life, would you drop me a line in the comments, and let me know? Thanks.
Until next time,