Writing Fiction: What's the Point? Part Five


If you’ve been following this series of articles, you will have discerned that the Focusing Protocol is subtle. The more subtle, the better.

That’s because depolarisation in particular is to do with nuance.

As mentioned earlier, to inject drama into any situation, things have to be polarised. Driving apart things creates vacuums, and vacuums attract attention just like a vacuum cleaner sucks in air. It’s fairly easy, and not very nuanced, to polarise any situation: one simply seeks for the differences, simplifies them and emphasises them as differences while overlooking similarities.

However, removing drama (and vacuums) from any situation requires depolarisation: moving extremes together. But if you begin from a situation in which extremes have already been inflamed, as it were, it’s not necessarily that easy to bring things together. You can remove as much space and as many barriers as possible, but things might still be highly charged and ready to explode apart again at any moment.

You can see this all through Life: in relationships, in politics, in business and so on.

This applies to getting readers for your book, too.

Potential readers are automatically, almost by definition, in a somewhat polarised position with regard to your work.

Your work is ‘over there’ for the potential reader — they have never heard of it and are not at all close to it, mentally, emotionally or geographically. Conventional marketing tries to bridge this gap using overwhelming force: bombarding the potential reader with ads, spamming their news feeds and trying to grab their attention in various other ways, all very wasteful.

Organic marketing knows better.

An organic marketer knows that to get a reader to pick up, admire, purchase and read your work requires nuanced stages.

Firstly, you have to get the prospect into a group relatively connected to your work, on his or her own volition; then you have to cultivate that prospect by feeding him or her things of great interest because they are closely related to something already fascinating to that individual, or orientating the person; then, by echoing these things that are in common between books that the prospect already admires and your own work, you gradually build up a rapport, effectively re-framing the reality of the prospect so that your work is now part of his or her thinking on the subject or genre.

The Focusing Protocol is something that’s fluid and that evolves. It’s a communication between you and your prospect that’s designed to bring them into close proximity with your fiction effectively, just by taking these few simple steps. If you’re not sure how to get the process going, here are a few default topics that will help:

  • What part of [insert your genre] excites you the most right now?

  • Did you notice how [insert particular author] achieves [insert effect]?

  • What part of the work of [insert particular author] do you think is different from other authors?

  • What are you looking for in [insert your genre] right now?

  • What film best captures the work of [insert particular author]?

  • What’s the happening thing in [insert your genre] right now?

As you can probably see, these are conversational topics that might easily arise in any social media group about any kind of fiction — Westerns, romance, science fiction, etc. Members of such groups will readily respond to such questions and many fascinating conversations will be had. If you’re on the ball, you’ll be able to participate in many of these conversations with ease and you’ll begin to recognise the signs that someone is ready to go into a closer relationship with your work.

Watch for signals such as particular preferences within a genre (that match with your work) or affinities for authors similar to yourself; watch for voiced disappointments with certain books (which you know your own work could address) or favoured themes or images. As you receive these signals, travel down those paths and develop the relationship.

Hard work? If you think about it, there aren’t many techniques that are as easy to implement. After all, you only need to ask a few questions to a body of warm prospects (like members of your social media group) to get the ball rolling. And asking those questions enables you to:

  • Get interaction going

  • Get feedback from your prospects

  • Use that feedback to expand the induction process so it becomes more powerful

Conventional marketing does none of those things: there is no interaction, only a bombardment of ads out into the void; there is never any feedback; and that leaves the marketer blind and powerless.

Here are a few ideas about when you might put the Focusing Protocol into practice:

  • Use it when you meet a new member in your group

  • Start your posts with the Focusing Protocol in mind

  • Add the Focusing Protocol into the middle of another conversation – this is particularly useful if you’re introducing something new to your subject, or if you’re trying to troubleshoot a specific issue

There aren’t any rules about when to use the Focusing Protocol exactly. The only thing that matters is that it gets results, so use it when you want a powerful induction that attracts readers almost effortlessly.

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