A friend commented the other day that although my posts were well-written, they were perhaps a tad long; this immediately sent me into a state of perplexed anxiety given my aptitude for gathering observational momentum after around eight hundred words, before I soar into my all-knowing, “moral-of-this-tale” closing paragraph. Doug (said friend) comes from a position of knowledge (he’s an editor), so I would be foolish to not take on board his words of wisdom …..OK … Hmmm… Edit? Keep it brief? Me? Seriously ….?
It did lead me to thinking about the point at which a reader goes from being satisfyingly entertained to yawning and flipping back onto Facebook, Twitter or whatever their particular addiction is. Or perhaps they keep on reading in the hope that it’s going to get better, a little bit like the film I watched on Saturday night (which didn’t, incidentally …. “The Illusionist” with Edward Norton … ejected after thirty minutes)
So, clearly the knack is to seize the imagination quickly, decisively and without mercy. A bit like circling romantic prey. A lot like it, actually.
I’m not talking about the meandering little foray you both take initially, where furtive glances are exchanged and mildly suggestive language is toyed with; it’s the point at which you see the green light well and truly illuminated. It’s time to strike. Going back over this passage I’m more than a little concerned that I’m using hunting and war-like metaphors in association with relationships; this is something I need to address with professional help at some point, I fear.
I suspect a seasoned and skilled journalist will tell you a good headline will grab quicker than anything, so with my usual limited ability to get beyond the obvious I go with something provocative or suggestive (ideally both); it’s cheap and it works (unlike our parliamentary system, it seems).
Who is great at maintaining an audience? Well, I’d have to say none surpass Barack Obama at the moment. Even black and white images of the man mesmerise me. He dresses well, he has an air of composed self-belief, and as soon as he ventures to open his mouth to speak you know you will be tuned in until he desists. He is, I believe, the greatest orator of my lifetime. Even my mother can forgive the fact that he smokes ….. and that is no mean feat, I assure you.
It appears it’s not the initial gripping that’s the real challenge here, but the maintenance of said grip.
Like I said … just like relationships.