Tag Archives: ereaders

How to Captivate Hurried Readers with a Magic Opening Line

Can I skip the opening sentence for this post?

Pleeeease?

Let’s say you skip reading the first few sentences and start with the fourth?

Or fifth?

I don’t like the pressure of writing a first sentence.

What if I fail to engage readers? What if I’m boring them? What if I’ve wasted my time on this article because my first line sucks?

The task of writing a first sentence can paralyze even the most acclaimed writers. In an interview with the Atlantic, Stephen King admits he can spend months, or even years, on writing the opening lines for a new book.

Sounds crazy, right?

As business writers, we don’t have the luxury of time. We have other things to do than worrying about one line of text.

So what can we do?

Let me share with you a trick for writing a first sentence super-fast. But first, let’s define what a good opening line is.

Okay?

An outrageously good opening sentence

This is how the novel “Nervous Conditions” by Tsitsi Dangarembga starts:

I was not sorry when my brother died.

Why is this sentence good?

It entices you to read on.

That first sentence creates drama because it instantly raises two compelling questions in readers’ minds: Why did the brother die? And why was the author not sorry? A reader reads on because he wants to find out the answers to these two questions.

Stephen King says it like this:

An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.

One of the most famous opening lines

This is how “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger starts:

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

This famous opening line is 63 words long.

Is such a long sentence a good idea?

Ben Blatt analyzed what makes a good novel great, and he also reviewed first sentences. His conclusions are not clear cut, as he summarizes in his book “Nabokov’s Favorite Word is Mauve:”

The first sentence is only as popular as the rest of the book, and brevity alone will not make a first sentence great.

Our literary heroes may write lengthy first sentences.

But when writing for the web, we need to remember our readers. They’re not curled up on a comfy sofa with a book and a glass of Rioja. They’re hurrying across the web, searching for interesting articles to read and share. Who has the patience to start reading a block of text?

So, instead of following J.D. Salinger’s 63-word mammoth sentence, take your cue from Toni Morrison, the master of short first sentences, like this one from “Tar Baby:”

He believed he was safe.

From “Paradise:”

They shoot the white girl first.

From “God Help the Child:”

It’s not my fault.

Each of these sentences makes you curious to read on.

Your first sentence has two purposes. First, get people to read your first sentence—a short sentence works better because it’s easy to read. Then, make sure they want to read your second sentence.

The worst opening lines

Ben Blatt quotes the opening line of the book “Paul Clifford” by Edward Bulwer-Lytton as one of the most ridiculed opening lines ever:

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

Not only is that sentence awfully long, its worst crime is that nothing happens. Nothing grabs attention. Nothing makes me curious. It’s simply a description of the weather. So what?

Of course, in business we rarely write about the weather, but you may have come across similar opening lines that fail to whet your appetite for reading more. For instance:

Many ways exist to choose your words.

As you know, Rome wasn’t built in one day.

In business, you have to take risks.

Duh!

The above opening lines may be short, but they’re obvious statements, killing readers’ interest. There’s no incentive to read on.

A little-known shortcut for web writers

Getting nervous about writing a good first sentence?

No need for nerves, when you know this blog writing trick …

Unlike novels, a blog post is often a conversation with our readers. And what easier way to engage readers than asking them a question?

A few examples:

Do you hear that nagging voice, too? (source)

Do you ever feel a pang of envy? (source)

Has it happened to you, too? (source)

In a face-to-face meeting, you often start a conversation with a question, like: Cup of tea? How did your meeting go? Or: How’s business?

Why not do the same in your writing?

The one magic opening line doesn’t exist

So, no need to search for it anxiously.

Instead, remember your reader.

Imagine him hurrying across the web. He’s feeling restless. He’s impatient because he’s been wasting his time reading lousy blog posts.

How can you engage him? How can you make him read your first sentence? And then the next?

A good writer draws a reader in, and doesn’t let him go until the last word.

By
Source: enchantingmarketing.com

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Writing Prompt: How to Choose Your Own (Writing) Adventure

When I was a kid, I loved reading Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novels that had alternate paths written into the story. If you aren’t familiar with them, they were elementary or middle grade chapter books that begin a story and at key moments, offer the reader a choice: “To go through the portal, turn to page 37. To run away, turn to page 45.”

I loved seeing the story change with the choices, and I reread the books making different choices each time to experience a new story. I’ve channeled my inner adventurer to put together a fun writing prompt.

The Choose Your Own Adventure Writing Prompt

Today, I have a writing exercise that puts some choices in your hands. Have fun with it. If you get stuck, go back and swap out one of the elements and try again. The joy is in the journey, not in the destination (although a finished story is an accomplishment, too).

To build your own writing prompt, begin by making choices from categories. I teach my students to write a simple premise before they begin writing a draft, even if they haven’t outlined before. Here are the key components, and they should look familiar if you’ve been following Sarah’s great series on writing and publishing a short story:

A character {usually with a problem}
wants {goal}
But {obstacle / conflict / complication}
So {action he or she takes to overcome obstacle to get goal}

Build Your Writing Prompt

Now, here are the choices. Choose one thing from each category and make your character act to get what he or she wants!

Characters

Choose one and decide whether you want them to be a hero or anti-hero. (A too-reductive hint: hero — admirable; anti-hero — not so admirable.)

  • A sailor
  • A bartender
  • A teacher
  • A musician

Goals

  • To contact an old friend / partner / lover
  • To become anonymous
  • To avoid arrest / detection
  • To accept an inheritance

Obstacles

  • A flat tire or bus / car malfunction
  • Missed an important meeting or rendezvous
  • Exposed secret or miscommunication
  • Attacked by villain / bees / bears / barracudas

Action

No choices here; let the action follow the other choices you made!

Two Sample Writing Prompts

I’ve put these elements together to show you what a premise might look like. Try these out for size:

Sample prompt premise: A bartender wants to become anonymous but her ex-boyfriend exposes her real name, so she quits / seeks revenge / runs off to . . .

Swap it out: A hometown hero bartender wants to avoid arrest after he’s caught in a drunken brawl, but he accidentally overhears his boss on the phone reporting him. He . . .

As you can see, there’s incredible variety to be found even in these short lists of characters, goals, and obstacles. You’ll likely come up with something completely different. And even if the elements you choose are the same as mine, the actions that follow will make your story unique.

Sometimes working from a few choices gets the creative juices flowing. Where will your Choose Your Own Adventure writing prompt take you?

What’s your favorite combination of the elements above? Share in the comments.

By Sue Weems
Source: thewritepractice.com

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There are more than ten types of people who read books

People who read books have their own reading habits independent of the book format they like. Pages of paper books can be folded and highlighted, whereas notes can be jotted down on pages of an ebook (that don’t destroy the actual page) and highlighted as well. Someone may like to read in bath and another in bed. Riveted has identified ten types of book readers – but there are more.

Careful Page Turner. Books are so precious objects for this type of reader that even after reading a book, it looks like new.

Page folder. Books are full of memories and important things to note and remember. Every earmarked page has something to say to this reader.

Highlighter. Earmarking pages is not enough for this type of reader who wants to underline and highlight terms and lines.

Ebook user. Computers, tablets, ereaders and smartphones have users (unlike books that have readers), who read electronic books from the screen.

Paperback reader. In countries where ebooks have taken a large market share, sales of paperbacks has fallen, but there are still plenty paperback readers. Paperbacks are the classic choice of travelers, largely replaced today by ereader devices.

Hardcover lover. Book, music and movie industries have something in common: they can sell the same product many times to same customers, only in different package. Hardcover books have retained their market share despite ebooks (or paperbacks) that often are priced lower than hardcover products.

Library Hermit. With an endless supply of free books (and nowadays also the internet), it is easy to understand why some people like to spend hours in libraries.

Story Hoarder. A reader starts reading a story, but something makes him or her jump to the next book without finishing the first one. Some readers have he ability to jump from one story to the next without difficulties. I can do it with nonfiction books, but not with fiction.

Parallel computing. It is possible to read a book and listen to radio or (kind of) watch television at the same time, but playing a video game or cooking is difficult while reading a book. If you like to multitask, here is a tip for you: audiobooks. Another option is to download an app to your phone or tablet and let it read aloud an ebook for you.

Bedtime page turner. For some readers, it may be impossible to sleep before reading a little while, at least.

I can think of many additional types of readers, such as people who take a book along to a beach or park, and people who listen to audiobooks when they drive or commute. The emergence of ebooks has made books as a medium a flexible part of our lives, allowing us to enjoy them in many ways and in many places.

Source: klaava.com

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5 best book reading apps for iPhone and iPad

Marvin for iPad featured image

Marvin for iPad

There are a lot more book reading apps for iOS than just iBooks and in this short overview you’ll find my top 5 recommendations.

There is no iBooks in the list and I did it in purpose. Its unique feature is that you can shop iBookstore directly within the app. That is not a result of an outstanding app development, but Apple’s policy (30% cut from any purchase) which prevents competition from adding in-app purchase option.

Most popular book reading apps are tied with particular ebookstores. Kindle, Kobo, Nook or Sony are designed to let users of these ebookstores access books they bought there and manage their personal bookshelves.

In this overview I’d like to focus more on what app offers rather than what ebookstore does. So, “millions of titles” is not the reason to include the app in the list below. Instead, you’ll learn which app has a feature others don’t, and why it’s good to try it.

5 best book reading apps for iPhone and iPad

Kindle

Kindle for iPhone iPad

Kindle app is one of most advanced book readers in the iTunes AppStore. You can read not only books, but also newspapers and magazines that you subscribe via Kindle Store.

The app supports enhanced ebooks, the ones described as Kindle with Audio/Video – something you can’t read on your Kindle e-reader.

Kindle for iPhone iPad logoOn of the most convenient features Kindle app gives is the ability to send own ebooks to an email address that is specific to your Kindle app (and different for Kindle apps on each and every of your iOS devices).

To find this email, slide the top bar to the right to reveal Docs section. Right below you’ll see “Send documents to” and the email address.

Every time you send a file with an attachment in mobi format (DRM-free), it will appear in the relevant Kindle app right away, so there is no need to download it from the cloud library.

The way dictionary works is also very specific – and much more useful than in other apps. When you jump to a full definition of the word in the dictionary, you are still able to get the definition of words there. Thanks to that you can further explore word’s meaning, as it’s not a one-step lookup, like in other apps.

Some books from the Kindle Store have a great feature enabled which is called “X-Ray”. It allows to better understand the book’s structure, and helps a lot if you’re lost in a plot. The feature comes together with Book Extras, powered by Shelfari. It’s editable book encyclopedia – a list of most important facts about the book.

⇢ Kindle Free

Google Play Books

Google Play Books for iPhone and iPad screenshots

Kindle app, however, is missing one feature. This feature is offered by Google Play Books and it’s the reason why Google’s app is in this overview. It’s instant translation.

Google Play Books for iPhone and iPad logoIf English is your mother tongue, you may not understand why translation is so important. If you speak another language and still learn English, looking up for the meaning of a word in a dictionary may not bring the immediate association of what this word is in your mother tongue. Translation is a quick help in every case like that.

You can get a translation in just two two taps. Tap on a word or select a passage, and a pop-up window will appear. Tap on Translate and set up language-to-language translation flow (you’ll have to do it only once).

Translation is powered, obviously, by Google Translate. You’d be surprised how accurate it is, not only for words but entire sentences.

I’ve found a workaround to translate words in the Kindle iOS app, using Google lookup as a tool. Anyway, Amazon should include it if they seriously care for international customers. Translation seems to be not a big deal. If eBookMobi app can have it, why not Kindle?

If you need a quick language dictionary lookup, Google Play Books is for now the best option.

⇢ Google Play Books Free

Kobo

Kobo for iPhone and iPad screenshots

Besides very friendly customization options, Kobo app offers an experience that makes the most of social reading in the digital age.

Kobo’s set of social features is called Reading Life. You can not only read the book, but join a conversation about it at any time.

Kobo for iPhone and iPad logoThere is a Kobo Pulse indicator at the bottom of the page. It get brighter on pages with more comments and reader activity. When you tap on it you’ll see what other readers think about what you’ve just read.

You can also share your own notes and thoughts. Simply, highlight the passage and write down your comment.

By connecting with your friends’ Reading Life on Facebook you’ll know what they read, as well as view and compare their awards and stats.

Awards and stats are two other features that lets read a book in a more dynamic way. Any time you can check out how quickly you read: how many pages per hour or how many hours per book.

There are also several awards to win while you use the app. These awards ”help celebrate fun milestones in your Reading Life”. You can become a Scout Leader or Deep Thinker or Night Rider, depending on how and when you read and use the Reading Life.

If you’re curious about what to expect from social reading, download Kobo app and explore what Reading Life has to offer.

⇢ Kobo Free

Readmill

Readmill for iPhone and iPad screenshots

The three apps above are devoted to get access to particular ebookstores, but if you prefer independency you should check out Readmill app.

You can start using the app by signing in with your Facebook credentials. The app supports popular file formats, epub and pdf – also the files with Adobe DRM.

Readmill for iPhone and iPad logoReadmill’s Adobe DRM support lets you read with this app books bought in Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Sony Ebookstore. Remember to authorize the iPhone or iPad with your Adobe ID, before you start downloading the files to Readmill.

The app is a clean and simple combination of a book reader, book discovery tool and social reading. You won’t feel overwhelmed with too many features, and can start reading right away after downloading the app.

What’s the strongest side of the app is it’s sleek interface. It’s definitely the most beautiful book app in the iTunes AppStore. In fact, Readmill’s minimalist design had the iOS 7 look long before iOS 7 was announced.

Making ebooks beautiful is very difficult, because the design comes as a result of two factors: how the ebook is formatted, and how the book reader is designed. Readmill does the second job perfectly.

Although Readmill is an independent app, it lets you sync your library via the cloud. You can download books directly to the app on the iOS device: (via email, cloud service app like Dropbox, Safari, or in-app catalog), but you can also add books via Readmill.com website.

⇢ Readmill Free

Marvin

Marvin for iPad screenshots

Kindle is one of the most advanced book readers for iOS, because the most advanced one is Marvin. The app is available only for the iPad, and that’s because you can only see on a larger screen how much it can offer.

Marvin for iPad logoMarvin app gives you the most advanced personalization panel ever. You’ll not only change the font type and size, but can set up a different one to text and a different one to heading.

You can define your own theme (different for a day and night), but best of all you can also set up your own gestures, for instance swiping to control brightness, or page turn directions, or snapping to bookmarks.

Marvin supports DRM-free epub files only, but it lets add new books right within the app: via built-in browser, Dropbox, or OPDS catalog.

Most importantly, Marvin app lets you analyze the book the way Kindle’s X-Ray does – and you can have it for every book, not only X-Ray enabled.

Marvin intelligently looks up extended information on Wikipedia without leaving the app. You can look up characters or places in the book you’re reading to see biographies, articles, or photos.

The app supports metadata and Calibre book management. The ways you can search your library of books are extensive: by tag, topic, vocabulary and even by number of words.

⇢ Marvin Free

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Ebook Friendly

About Piotr Kowalczyk

Founder of Ebook Friendly. Ebook enthusiast, technology geek, iPhone artist, and self-published author from Poland.

Visit: www.firsteditiondesignpublishing.com

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