Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Stealth techniques of audience attention (dis) order

"She woke at midnight, She always woke up then without having to rely on an alarm clock. A wish that had taken root in her awoke her with great accuracy".

 "I stare up through the gaps in the sea-grass parasol at the bluest of skies, summer blue, Mediterranean blue, with a contented sigh. Christian is beside me, stretched out on a sun lounge". 

A rough calculation of the first text puts it at around 500,000 words. The second estimated at 120,000. The first - an opening para comes from Naguib Mahfouz ( wait..wait), the only winner of the Nobel Prize for literature for Cairo Trilogy, with an Arabic heritage.

The second para is lifted from the raunchy read: Fifty Shades, the sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey.

It's all in the opening para, yet how much we forget that.  

Technological fecundity and a fetishism that determines how a human's GDP is determined.

Oh you didn't know. It's  how many times you tweet divided by how many new followers you gain. I didn't know that either  -- I was just told.

But the point I'm making is the art of the opening is a diminishing concern.

So you follow a lead from a tweet to a blog, and within the space of three seconds decide, I'll pass. Something about the opening and the turgid lines of sentences that followed.

Film scholars know it as the 'initiating incident', to literary writers, it's in media res, which generally means in the middle. 

You the reader are planted in the middle of that thing. If its drama is compelling, human curiosity seeks closure. You'll continue to read. 

Those newly weds consummating in a free fall parachute dive, is at the end of this text ( sorry, human curiosity. Closure. My point)

Both cinema and literary devices are just as valid in blogs as they are in  videojournalism, which describes why, the formula about what durations worked on line, were in fact myths.

The simple test for you, me  and the audience, is, if your first para couldn't pull you off watching True Detectives, why should it pull anyone else.