You just put the last period on the last sentence of the last chapter of the novel you’ve been writing for the last three years.
Soon it will be time to tell everyone about your book. If you want to reach beyond family and friends, a new challenge looms: writing for the web.
This is the time to shelve all the lovely prose you honed so carefully over those three tortuous years, and to consider some stats from the Nielsen Norman Group.
– 79 percent scan rather than read webpages.
– “Eye stops” last 0.1 seconds. Surfers decide every 10-120 seconds whether to leave or stay on a page.
– Only 28 percent of page copy (at most!) gets read.
So creative writers must be brief, simple and put the most important information first. This is easier if you’ve spent some time as a newspaper reporter. If not, start working on it. Go through a day and put headlines on routine events.
Man Trips Racing Up Subway Escalator
Student Spills Coke on New Ipad
Biker Cuts Off BMW; Driver Enraged
There’s a wonderful scene in the movie version of The Shipping News where a wise old newsman guides a clueless younger reporter, admonishing him to find “the beating heart of your story.” Peering into the ominous horizon, he says, “What do you see? Tell me the headline.”
The new reporter answers, “Horizon fills with dark clouds.”
The old newsman shakes his head as if dealing with the village idiot and says, “Imminent storm threatens village!”
“But what if no storm comes?” the other says.
“Village spared from deadly storm,” he shrugs.
Here’s the beating heart of my next novel, Bootlicker:
An unholy union exists between a racist U.S. senator and the candidate poised to become South Carolina’s first black congressman since the Civil War.
What’s the beating heart of your story?