Attention span! Going, going, gone…

You might want to rethink the first 10 pages of your book.

There is tremendous pressure to produce engaging content because the reader is ruthless when it comes to commitment – someone is only going to stick around if the beginning of a book is exceptional.

“People don’t have [that] attention span. We don’t have time to sit there and engage for sixty or seventy pages with nothing happening. Readers need to be entertained, the writer now has to capture the reader’s attention from the first page,” says literary agent Marianne Gunn O’Connor.

Attention span is shorter than ever. Social-networking sites and internet engagement via smart phones beguile us. Short posts, Tweets and click-bait stories are gobbled up in quick reader bursts and forgotten.

Proceed with caution though. Before you rethink and rewrite, remember that sensational starts can fizzle out. You can’t throw all the action and intrigue at the first 10 pages unless you are confident you can keep up the good work. The plot needs momentum.

Readers need to be entertained from the first page but not overwhelmed. Make something happen to grab the reader’s attenion but don’t make it happen all at once.


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