He Called Me Craig: Real-Life Comedy and Keeping Readers Reading

How’s it going? I applied for a copywriting gig a couple days ago–an agency in Australia wanted someone to help out with emails, sales letters, and what-have-ya. They had a special form to fill out, which I did. And then I forgot about it.

Today I get an email that matches the dude’s name that wanted the copywriter, and it even mentioned my application in the subject line.

But the salutation read “Hi, Craig.”

That’s when I started wondering if I’d gotten somebody else’s email, even though everything else matched up to that point.

So I opened it, and saw the follow-up that said sorry for calling you by the wrong name. That meant that my application had been rejected based on budget issues, but that was fine. I thanked him for his time, said it was all right he’d called me by the wrong name (it made me laugh a little–and I said so).

(If I had been thinking, I may have suggested other arrangements he would have been more willing to test out–which is a subject for another post).

Okay, what’s my point with this post?

As a writer, you want to get someone’s attention, just like this guy at the agency got my attention. Calling someone by the wrong name is probably not the ticket, though.

I mean getting them curious. Intrigued. Wondering what the heck is going to come next–with such intensity that they practically have to turn the page, scroll down, or what-have-ya to find out.

How should we get that done?

Here are a few ideas:

Let them see themselves, or someone to care about. If you’re telling a story about someone who is experiencing a problem or strong emotions that your readers might have experienced, or who they can sympathize with, that can spur people to read on, for sure. This also deserves to have groundwork laid, in a lot of cases.

Get them asking questions in their head. What? Why? Where? How? When? Who? (Or so the grammar books tried to teach.) That’s a big driver for curiosity. Why is someone bringing up Mickey Mouse in a business email? Or who is she meeting at three in the morning, and why is she turning off her lights a block before she turns off the car? If you can connect the elements and answer the questions so readers don’t feel cheated, they’ll read on (and your name won’t be mud to them after they’re done).

Make it bigger. If there’s something you can make people curious about or imply something bigger (a potential payoff for them if they continue on), they’ll be more likely to keep reading.

These three examples/explanations kinda tie together. If we put a woman struggling to pay rent in the first scene, and make her believable, there’s our someone in #1. We already have her driving in #2 above to a strange place. We could end it humorously if we wanted to, or we can have her meet with someone she wasn’t expecting–like if she was sent a pic of someone and that person isn’t meeting her right now. What does she do? And how do things get resolved?

Are these the only ways to do things? Heck no. This is just a small sampling of what you could do (and if I think of/research any more, you could probably look forward to another post on it–we’ll have to see).

If you give readers questions to answer, bits of knowledge that aren’t connected, or what-have-ya, and give readers a mental pen to connect the dots, they will (as long as it isn’t too difficult for them–which is where finesse comes in). Give them a few dots at a time, ramp up the curiosity, and they’ll follow.

Like someone getting your attention by calling you the wrong name.

Until next time,

Ty

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About Ty Mall

Thanks for stopping by. I've almost always been interested in writing, among other things. Along with discovering pop culture, I've uncovered a lot about the craft over the past 10 years. And whether you're a fiction writer or email copywriter, I'm here to pass on what I've found out. And have a ton of fun in the process.
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