Readers like to be kept in suspense

Posted on May 30, 2010


The most successful writers are able to create such suspense in their work that it compels readers to keep going until the last page, often staying up late in the process. While content writing and article writing are quite different from fiction, some of the same principles can be applied, with the result that pieces will be more gripping.

The technique most often used to create suspense is to set up a desired outcome and then to hint that it might not be forthcoming due to various adverse events. If the reader is made to care deeply about whether a certain outcome happens or not, that can help to keep pages turning until the end of a book.

In a similar way, an SEO copywriter can begin their piece of content by telling a story, or promising to explain something, with the outcome in each case being possibly exciting, entertaining or useful to the reader. The reader then becomes engaged with the piece and reads on in order to find out what the writer will eventually reveal.

This should never be used as a cheap trick, with nothing of substance turning up at the end, or a reader will feel cheated in the same way that one might after ploughing through hundreds of pages of a novel before being sold a mediocre ending such as: “It was all a dream”. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule in writing and this ending never did Lewis Carroll any harm, but writers of less legendary status should probably be more cautious.

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