Monday, 8 April 2013

Read On. Go on. I Insist!

Firstly, I will admit that this is a pet hate of mine, but the fact that it only occasionally puts in an appearance in magazines suggests that editors might not like it either. What am I talking about? Read on to find out more ...

Ah! I see you've done exactly what I told you to do. Thank you. And that's my point. I told you to read on. As a reader, I don't like being told what to do. If the writer has written an engaging and intriguing introduction they will have my attention and I will want to read on, because I want to know what else the writer has to say.

Telling a reader to 'read on' is lazy writing. If a writer hasn't written an engaging opening then they should rewrite it to make it more engaging. You don't sit down to watch a film, only to have the film's director appear on the screen after a couple of minutes and say, "Stay seated ... there's a really good bit coming up in a minute," do you?

There's a fine line between telling a reader to read on and inviting them to read on, however, I don't even think readers need an invitation. Just cut straight to the point you want to make.

Telling readers what to do is also unnecessary wordage. Instructions to your readers uses word space that could be used to give them more practical, and interesting, information, which would encourage them to want to read on.

So, the next time you find yourself telling your reader what to do put yourself in their shoes and consider how you would feel being told what to do. As a minimum, you should delete your instruction to the reader. Immediately, you'll find the tone of your piece has changed for the better.

Good luck.

6 comments:

  1. This sounds more like something that would come up in a children's novel. "Do you want to know what happened? Well read on children..."

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    1. Yes, there is an element of talking down to your reader there, isn't there?

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  2. It annoys me too, Simon! I'd rather be invited than told any day :-) x

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  3. I often stop reading, if I'm told to read on!

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  4. I am working on a piece currently and it is not going well. I have been tempted (more than once) to tell the reader to "read on". That doesn't sound like a good idea any more.

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    1. Don't do it! Look at why you are telling the reader to read on. Which bit do you want them to get to to read? Identify that, and you'll have a clearer idea of what is important, and perhaps what can be ditched.

      Good luck!

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