We all know the scene. You're at the concert, waiting for it to begin. The anticipation is building, your gut tightening as you wait for those opening chords. Then, the house lights dim, the stage lights burst on, and the headliner comes out with that big, "Hello, Chicago!" You and 20,000 other fans cheer wildly and the concert begins. You are enthralled for the rest of the night.
This little trick - this "Hello, Chicago," - doesn't just work in music. It works in any medium where the artist wants to build that energy by creating a bond with the audience, be it a bunch of fans, people at an art showing, or just one single reader. In this case, the artist happens to know the city they are performing in, and uses that to establish a common ground - to connect the wires and start transmitting the energy. A writer can and should use this same technique, and has more than one way to do it.
In the case of the concert, there's a natural draw. I likely shelled out $200 for that ticket, so I am already a receptive audience. If I am a reader who likes historical narrative, ships, and World War One, I will naturally be drawn to books like Dead Wake by Erik Larson, and the writer doesn't have to try too hard to make the sale. However, Mr. Larson would be wise to make sure to build that energy. His words should reach out to me to communicate the historical relevance, make me feel the water, and understand the tension of the war.
The best way an author can build that energy (in historical narratives or fiction) is to appeal to those aspects most important to the story. Offer the saltiness of the ocean water, the feel of being on an ocean liner in 1914, every element that speaks to the subject matter should be crafted to be a very personal experience.
In personal stories, this is all the more important. We can tell a story about a journey across the ocean and describe in vivid detail every sunset, whale sighting and angry wave, but we can do more. We can make the personal connection - offer up our feelings about that sunset. Our personal awe and splendor of seeing a whale, or our nausea from the rolling waters. When we talk about these in a common language our reader can understand, we are connecting with them and building up that energy. We are giving them that, "Hello, Chicago!" and they bind themselves to our story.
Building that energy is strictly up to the writer, but it is self-investment. The more it's done, the more it draws in the reader. And, similar to shouting out to the crowd, it also works in places other than Chicago.
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