A writing reminder that I recently heard about has really struck a chord with me. It’s called AIDA. It’s usually for advertising, but I think it can help fiction writers, too. Here’s how with a little help from Spider-Man.
What does AIDA stand for?
A = Attention
I = Interest
D = Desire
A = Action
That formula usually applies to writing a catchy headline, generating interest in your first paragraph, creating an emotional connection and then asking for them to contact you. It can work with fiction, though, too.
You’ve heard about the importance of a first line. Or how people love it when the first three to four pages really grab them. That’s called getting their Attention.
In movies, this usually happens with an exciting title sequence. Like Spider-Man flying through buildings just for the rush.
I used to think that an exciting beginning was a cop-out. That creating something dramatic in the early going misled someone about the “truth” of a story or something.
But really? I was just conceited.
The idea of how to set up a story has changed. And you’re writing for a modern audience. They expect action or an unusual take on the world in the first few pages. Why? Because they’re being pulled in a million directions, and frankly so are you. And stories don’t have to appear chronological. So hit with some action, then fill in the settings and other details later. It’ll get people going. When people are opening your book, they’re giving you a chance. Reward them. Make the beginning great and amazing.
Then that feeds into Interest. Now that you’ve got’em, start filling in the details. Make them even more invested in the situation and character. This is when you add a layer of personal connection that will pay off later.
In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, there’s a scene in it where Peter Parker and Harry Osborn are bonding. They were once friends and they’re just chilling at a park, throwing rocks across the river. The scene is kind of a throwaway, until you realize that Spiderman beat up his dad in the last one, and then will soon have to face Harry in another situation. Though there wasn’t any immediate action when they’re skipping rocks, we have some interest.
Okay, now Desire.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is more of a romantic drama than an action superhero story. Why? So much is placed on Peter Parker’s desire–to be with Gwen and to learn about his parents’ death. This is what keeps the story going. And it keeps the viewer immersed.
In copywriting, you’re trying to get the consumer to really want what you’re selling. As an author of fiction, you want the reader fully invested so they’ll go to the end, and to find out how the characters live/survive/make it in their new world. They may just be interested, but desire brings them to the end. They want to see the hero’s quest fulfilled, the loose ends tied up (or not tied up) to see what you the author have done.
Nope, this isn’t just to put action in the story. Instead, it’s the action you want the viewer or reader to take next.
For the Spider-Man movies, it’s too love it so much that you’ll tell other people and they’ll make enough and want to do another one.
For fiction writers, it’s kinda the same. If you’re doing a series, then there’s an obvious next step–you provide some sort of bridge to the next book. But if you’re doing more literary stuff, then what? Well, you hope they read your other stuff. So at least putting a call to action, a website, newsletter, social media or other “suggested reading” is probably good. This is why the publisher sometimes list their other books at the end, so people will check those out.
Something else? Encourage readers to leave a review at Amazon or GoodReads to help spread the word.
Or maybe they’ll just tell a friend, which is awesome too.
Anyway, you want readers to at least do something after finishing the book. And that means you have to write a good book to get them there.