The success of the James Bond franchise can be attributed to any number of factors: the actors (No to George Lazenby; yes to everyone else.), the spy toys, Q and M, the cars, and – I have to mention them – the Bond girls (Again, only some of them.). Another factor is the storytelling one. Each Bond movie begins in the middle of the action. No explanation is given for why Bond is in Moscow, Turkey, or some other place. The exact reason for why Bond is chasing some henchman all over the place isn’t immediately revealed; it’s only later that the facts begin to tie together. By then, the viewer has been so submerged in the story that he or she is caught. The viewer has to follow the story to its end, even if the end is known: Bond will save the day in a more or less glorious fashion depending on the director and the direction of the film.
Blog posts can do the same thing. They can entice a reader to continue reading. They don’t do so by bombarding the reader with information in the first paragraph; no, information is withheld. Information isn’t withheld in a “dangling carrot” fashion nor is it done so that the author can shout “gotcha” at the end of the post. Posts of either variety only work every once in a while, and they become tiresome if overused. The reader comes to expect the surprise ending, which ruins the “surprise” that he or she is supposed to find at the conclusion.
To begin in the middle of things requires an understanding of the whole story. The author must know where the blog post is headed so that he or she doesn’t share a detail too early or too late. The author then has to be patient. He or she has to trust that the disparate parts will result in a story, and that those parts will draw in the reader and cause him or her to read the whole.
Photo: Marcos Kontze (CC BY 2.0)