When you write: “snarling and baring its fangs, the dog lunged at her neck,” your readers mentally put a hand to their throats.
If you’ve built the scene very well, maybe readers physically cover their throats.
When writing evokes our senses we feel like we are there, experiencing it. To get that kind of reaction, your writing must be full of description, of details and places that make us see the story as it unfolds.
A news piece on CNN.com by Elizabeth Cohen, Senior Medical Correspondent, did exactly that.
The story included a picture of a young woman holding a happy baby. The headline read: Surrogate offered $10,000 to abort baby. And a deck added: “Surrogacy ends with legal actions, secretive flight to another state.”
That was enough to make me curious, but the real-time, story-in-action approach got me to read the entire piece.
(CNN) — Crystal Kelley ran through the calendar once again in her head.
It was August, and if she got pregnant soon, she could avoid carrying during the hot summer months — she’d done that before and didn’t want to do it again. There was no time to lose.
But there was one problem: She had no one to get her pregnant.
Kelley picked up the phone and called a familiar number. What about the nice single man who’d inquired before — would he be interested? No, the woman told her. She hadn’t heard from him in weeks.
Disappointed, Kelley asked if there was anyone else who would hire her. She’d had two miscarriages herself and wanted to help someone else with fertility problems. In return, she’d get a $22,000 fee.
Hold on, the woman said, let me see.
Yes, she said, there was a couple who wanted to meet her. Was she ready to take down their e-mail address?
Absolutely, Kelley answered.
I’m right on that phone with Kelley, sweltering in the August heat. What will happen next? You can’t help but wonder.
And that’s exactly what you want your readers to do.