What Keeps Me Engaged as a Reader?
What keeps me engaged as a reader?
For me I need to feel connected to the story quickly. For example, in the personal essay “I Thought She was Stealing My Identity” (Davis, 2017), the anecdotal introductory paragraph got me hooked right away. I particularly enjoyed her use of imagery and metaphors with sentences like, “It seemed so unlikely that it could feel like an actual hall of justice, that hope could find its way past the bulletproof glass and the metal detectors.” In contrast, the opening paragraph in the feature “The Bravest Woman in Seattle” (Sanders, 2011), doesn't orient and anchor the reader until the second paragraph.
I’m a voice driven writer so for me as a reader voice is equally important. Both Sanders and Davis possess a strong voice even though one is a feature story and the other a personal essay. Both had strong sentences and word choice like “…told the judge, an avuncular fellow with a ring of gray hair,” (Davis, 2017) and “They walked home through South Park, through faint cones of street-lamp light and long stretches of darkness,” (Sanders, 2011). Sentences like these evoke strong images and connect the readers to the story.
The tone for these two pieces were different, but I believe it is because of the content – Sanders feature is very graphic and emotional, where as Davis’ essay is reflective about identity and race. Additionally the word counts differ with Davis’ essay nearing 4,000 words and Sander’s with over 5,000. Both word counts worked for me due to their respective subjects – Sander’s I felt required more room to allow the reader to breathe at moments.
Voice, tone, characters are all important to me as a reader which influence my writing with the hope to engage my readers. Write on!