Keep Readers Engaged by Starting In Medias Res

With all writing, capturing the reader’s attention is the key to keeping a reader engaged. Authors often use the literary practice of starting in medias res, “in the middle of everything.” They draw the reader in with immediate tension, action, and details that compel the reader to turn the page. All backstory or character development (what my writing mentor calls “throat clearing”) is postponed until later, until after the reader has become invested and has decided to keep reading.

With content writing, the concept of in medias res is just as relevant. Starting with the most important information is often the one thing that determines whether readers will keep reading or will click away from the page. That’s why, in a recent post, Zara Altair encourages writers to use the “inverted pyramid” when writing for social media or for a blog.

“Unlike a story that leads to the end, the salient information comes first in the inverted pyramid,” Altair explains. This approach follows a journalistic style, which tells the who’s, what’s, when’s, where’s, why’s, and how’s up front. After capturing the reader’s attention, she continues, a writer can then “[s]atisfy the reader with the details that sate the curiosity piqued by the headline and opening.”

Altair lists several benefits of using this inverted approach. From structuring a post with more white space to creating content that responds well to SEO, the inverted pyramid can make your content more accessible to readers.

As you approach writing, consider how to start in medias res. Determine what details are most relevant, what readers most want to know, what ideas will capture their attention. Allow for some “throat clearing,” knowing that what’s important will ultimately rise to the top. Then cut and delete. Further explanations, after all, typically aren’t necessary.

What are your thoughts? Share how you capture your readers’ attention below!

Katie Signature001


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