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Those first few words of the second paragraph—which a reader cannot help but skim—surprise us and thus draw us in.How can the narrator be happy after all that sorrow?"As a lifelong crabber (that is, one who catches crabs, not a chronic complainer), I can tell you that anyone who has patience and a great love for the river is qualified to join the ranks of crabbers.
The key is to add intrigue along with just enough information so your readers want to find out more.
When you begin writing a new piece, think about what your readers want or need to know.
"In March 2006, I found myself, at 38, divorced, no kids, no home, and alone in a tiny rowing boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. I’d had no human contact for weeks because my satellite phone had stopped working.
All four of my oars were broken, patched up with duct tape and splints.
It's a useful, time-efficient approach if you find yourself stuck in those first few words. You can always go back to the beginning or rearrange later, especially if you have an outline completed or general framework informally mapped out.
If you don't have an outline, even just starting to sketch one can help organize your thoughts and "prime the pump" as it were.
Yet, it is the possibility of a turn of fortunes that compels us to keep going.
This writer appealed to our emotions and a sense of shared experience to craft an effective read.
Posing a question, defining the key term, giving a brief anecdote, using a playful joke or emotional appeal, or pulling out an interesting fact are just a few approaches you can take.
Use imagery, details, and sensory information to connect with the reader if you can.