Non-fiction and fiction writers both have precious little time to capture and hold a reader. With the dizzying array of books out there, it's a wonder these brave souls don't run from the store screaming. Instead, authors seek to bring order and make their buying decision easier. We want the seeker to leave with their treasure (preferably our book) and a happy smile on their face.
While a non-fiction writer relies on a startling statistic, a cute story, an analogy, or an odd fact, the fiction writer uses a different set of tools. We want to raise a question in the reader's mind.
Jack walked down the street to Amy's house.
Jack hurried toward Amy's house, fear tightening its noose around his neck.
The first sentence is bland, puts all the facts out there. The reader says, "Why should I care?" That's not the kind of question you want to provoke. The second sentence makes Rosie Reader wonder, "Hmm, why is Jack hurrying? Why is he getting tense? I'd better find out." Bingo. Each sentence pulls Rosie deeper into the story world.
Applying this technique to a non-fiction piece--perhaps a devotional--would not only get Rosie to read on, but also put her in the thick of the action. By the time the writer gives the spiritual application, it goes straight to the heart. Let's give an example:
You might want to use an illustration of a time when someone lied about you, and the process of forgiveness. Instead of telling your reader:
When I was 15, my best friend, Shelley, told several people lies about me, you would show her the action:
"Shelley lied, and it hurt." The reader wants to know what kind of lies Shelley told, why, and who did she hurt?
Have you ever written a non-fiction piece using the Show/Don't Tell method? We're hooking that reader, so they'll get to the spiritual application or the point of the article. What are your thoughts?