...their eyes locked
The idea for today's blog post came to me in church. There was no singing allowed, apart from the choir, who sat two metres apart. The congregation too sat apart and only every other pew was used. A churchwarden opened the door to our pew and handed us our orders of service with recently sanitised hands. These are unusual times.
There is a point in the communion service when we are asked to give a sign of peace to each other. How were we to do that when hugging and hand-shaking are forbidden? I soon discovered that instead of stretching out my hand to those in reach I did all that was left to me: I scanned the space and sought out people's eyes and when I found a pair looking in my direction we locked eyes more firmly than ever before. With limited resources we did what we could, smiled broadly in an attempt to elicit a twinkle and gave a slight nod. The depth of connection in those moments touched me, causing my heart to give a little flip. Never before have I felt so engaged to those I was able to greet. And this is when the topic for today's post hit me...
You have to find a way to connect with your reader. You have to connect in the purest, simplest, most fundamental of ways and you have to make them notice you, really notice you.
For it was in the brief, deep moments of engagement in church that day that it was clear that real engagement is a two-way thing. Without us both taking it seriously there could be no engagement.
Seven rules of engagement
So how do you, the writer, connect with your reader? Sure, you make them notice you by making them laugh, entertaining them or writing exquisite prose. You can create tension and have a fabulous plot and a stunning cast of characters that keeps them turning pages. But it is only when you connect at a deep level that you can make their heart flip.
Here are some ideas to help you engage with your readers at that deep level:
It's a brand new year and I'm excited to share this brand new section with you this month. As you may know, since the start of the pandemic, I have been conducting Zoom interviews with skilled authors and experts on various aspects of the writing process. I call them In Conversation Masterclasses. I hold an average of one a month and it's always free to register. Not everyone can manage to attend the live sessions but they are always a goldmine of inspiration and information. So, now, every month, I am delighted to share some snippets of wisdom in both written and video form.
Below you will find extracts from my discussion with Dr Anisha Abraham who recently published Raising Global Teens, published by Summertime Publishing.
Jo Parfitt's Monthly Inspirer