This may be the MOST IMPORTANT CHAPTER in this entire book.
Now ask yourself why I have your attention. What grabbed you? What made you want to keep reading? How come you're reading even now?
Let me take a guess:
First, I hit you—hard—with a simple but solid statement.
Second, I made the line stand out by presenting it on the page all by itself.
Third, I gave the line greater impact by capitalizing some of the words.
That's almost a formula for creating Hypnotic Writing. Almost but not quite. Hypnotic Writing requires relentless fine-tuning. Fidget with words and phrases and sentences until each line kills. Every line has to work to keep the reader sucked in and reading on.
How do you create writing of this caliber? Follow the basic Joe Vitale formula, which is Write First, Edit Last. First, get a rough draft down. Then, go back to edit it to perfection. A friend of mine, a sculptor, does something similar when he first sketches out his idea, then works to bring it into living form. And as E.B. White said, "There is no great writing, only great rewriting."
You create Hypnotic Writing in the rewriting stage. You take what you have and you whittle it—sculpt it—polish it—to perfection. Let me try to show you what I do with a few specific examples:
"The door was opened by Joe."
Say that's a line in an article you're working on. It's not bad, but it isn't good either. It's too passive. A minor tinkering can help this line out.
"Joe opened the door."
Getting better, isn't it? Now we have someone doing something. That's active and much more involving. There's life in the sentence now. But is it hypnotic? Nope. So let's try again:
"Joe kicked open the door."
That would grab your attention, wouldn't it? But I think we can do better.
"Joe kicked open the door!"
Now we have an irresistible line! Start your story with that one and your reader is bound to go on to the next one.
Every line has to work to keep your reader's attention. The radio is calling, the television is calling, the phone is ringing, the sun is shining, the refrigerator has food in it, there's a new movie at the theater—your lines have to keep your reader nailed to the page, or you'll lose them to any or all of the above. There are simply too many distractions in the world for you to offer mediocre writing. You don't have a choice. You must rewrite your material to perfection. You must!
Take my Thoughtline sales letter. Because my money was riding on the success of that letter, I needed it to work. If you come to your writing with the same attitude, that you must win, that your whole career is riding on this, then you will make it work.
How to Nail Your Reader's Attention
I wanted Thoughtline to be a hit. But not a small hit. I wanted a big, amazing, unforgettable, incredible, made me laugh all the way to the bank hit.
I got it, too. But I had to rewrite the sales letter a hundred times. Let me give you a taste of what I did.
At one point in the original letter I said the following: "I was impressed when I used Thoughtline the first time."
Garbage! Who cares? So I rewrote the line to make it knock people off their chairs: "The first time I used Thoughtline it developed an outline for me that made my eyes pop!"
Notice the difference? I watched people as they read this new line and when they came across the words eyes pop, their eyes would widen—almost as if they were popping open. Amazing. Clearly a hypnotic line.
Here's another example: A client of mine is working on a new book. She was having trouble developing copy for the back cover, so she called me for some advice.
I told her, "Make every line active and personal and alive!"
She didn't understand. We set up a meeting for a consultation so I could walk her through the process.
"What do you want to say about your book?" I asked.
"I'll educate people about networking."
"How?" I inquired.
"By teaching them to use themselves resourcefully."
"Give me a specific tip."
"We say you are only four or five people away from anyone in the world," she explained. "If you use your network, you can meet anyone."
"Great! We'll use that for starters!" I said. And on a sheet of paper, I wrote the following: "You can reach anyone in the world through networking."
Then I looked at my client and told her what I was going to do.
"That line is bland," I told her. "Let's change it into a question and see if it's more intriguing."
I wrote the following: "Did you know you are only four or five people away from anyone in the world?"
Better, I thought to myself, but no cigar. I wrote another line down under it.
"Who do you need to see to get what you want?"
Still not good enough. My client observed it all with mounting excitement.
"Did you know you are only four or five people away from presidents, celebrities, millionaires, and royalty?"
"That's good!" my client said, smiling.
"It is," I admitted, "but we can do better. If you push past the obvious ideas, something deeper, and usually better, will come up."
"How do you make it better than that?" she asked.
"You can always make it better," I said. "One thing you can do is keep playing with the line until something triggers a breakthrough for you."
"That sounds like work to me."
"It is, it is," I agreed, "but it's an exhilarating challenge once you realize you are creating lines that actually influence people! They'll buy your ideas or products on the strength of what you write down. It's worth the extra work!"
I'm not sure if she bought my argument, but I still stand behind my words.
If you want to create writing that nails your readers to the page, work at it!
My client again looked at her new line. I stared at her for a moment, waiting for my unconscious to say something. I didn't have to wait long.
"You are only four people away from meeting millionaires, celebrities, or greatness! Who are those four people? Your friends!"
Getting better. We stopped there, but you can see how the process works. You keep trying ideas until something connects. Rewriting is the secret here. You rewrite and rewrite—always working to make your lines riveting—and you don't stop until you've succeeded.
In the next chapter I give you some specific ways to make your writing come alive !
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