The Amazing Flight of Little Ray
July 2018 by V. R. Duin


He also knew that he'd have to hurry.
Otherwise, his mama would worry.
Besides, the air seemed far too dry.
He swung to and fro, a determined try.
(“The Amazing Flight of Little Ray”)

Time constraints introduced an F reading pattern into the online speed reading of websites, social media and advertising, giving writers seconds to resonate.

F Reading Pattern: Writers must get to the point with creative writing for social media and for websites that market and promote books. The constraints imposed by highly scheduled and tightly structured lives leave few people with time to read lengthy material.

Users' eyes may track away from black and white text. Many people cannot, or will not, read more than a few brief lines at a time. Rarely does anyone read full pages of text from beginning to end. Colors, horizontal lines, trim and images may maintain, direct and hold attention.

Audio or visual may captivate attention. It is fast. The current trend for distribution of entertainment and news information is via audio and voice platforms. Voice messages can be heard at one's leisure. Listening can be done almost anywhere and while doing other things.

Most readers start at the top left corner of the screen. Eye-tracking studies show people read most of the first line, then skim down the left margin to view a partial line before moving away. This F-shaped pattern is how online content is traveled.

Scanning may be interrupted by travel to another link. The visitor may not return to the referral source. The average visitor spends less than 30 seconds on a website. Metrics typically stop at one hour. Approximately 2-3% of visitors spend an hour or more on each of this author's websites.

Visitors scan a page in a visual hierarchy. They check headlines at the top of the page. They travel down the page for highlights. A quick view ends with bold text or sub-headlines across the middle of the page. This pattern shows the importance of writing specifically for the Web.

An abundance of material makes speed necessary. Writers do not benefit when traffic clicks away, closes the page or stops navigating. Web writing must be surreptitious and subtle. Writers must remain aware of the constantly changing needs of their market.

Web pages should be focused by subject. They are not lumped together like a book. Successful site administrators creatively divide separate subjects into separate pages on one website. The use of separate blog and website addresses divides traffic flow to interesting and regularly updated content.

Re-purposing print content rarely accommodates demands for speed. Surfers want material with key points highlighted with bold type, bullets or lists for rapid scanning. Reading word-by-word is rare, especially when conducting research. Some readers cast an eye over the first line, and stop.

Surfers go and stay where there is action. People tend to share popular content, because there is status in forming part of huge numbers. Writers who attract attention, get increasingly greater attention. Quality of content matters, particularly for unknown writers.

Writers must be bold. When appealing to prospective readers, it may be necessary to embrace irreverent and humorous content. Learning about the time constraints, reading habits and accommodating the online speed reading needs of the target audience helps writers project confidence.

Web readers use their navigation bars. It is important to provide well organized information from the perspective of the target audience. Writers must explore a wide variety of technological platforms for the distribution and display of their work.

It is important to cut to the chase. Scrolling and panning are frustrations that few viewers are willing to undertake. Because of this reading pattern, long and confusing productions of any nature are unlikely to maintain attention through to completion. Attention is subject to wandering.

Browsers stop scripts that are voluminous in content, or overly frequent and repetitious in nature. Not only does this content go unread, these alerts may drive away future traffic. Lengthy texts and oversized images are rejected across the Web.

“Likes” are good in any and every language. They have become one of mainstream's measures of a writer's potential for success. People adopt the F reading pattern to travel quickly through material from a maximum of connections. They rarely read social texts thoroughly.

Modern readers seek paragraph breaks. The first two paragraphs must contain the most important information. Visitors are more likely to read more of the first paragraph than the second. Visitors read the third word on a line less often than the first two words.

Professionals in the literary world may allocate seconds to a submission. The need for speed reading is acute for literary agents and publishers. Unsolicited material may not be welcome. Few writers find agents. Most books sold by big publishers are agented.

Literary agents will not take aim at a broad target. It's hard to hit the right spot. Representation for contact with a specific person, company or organization for a specific purpose may be successful. Blanket representation of an unknown author or book is likely to meet with rejection.

Publishers do not want to take chances on unknown authors. The failure rate is too great. Nobody wants to promote failure. Failure is not good for reputations or careers in the literary world. Nobody gets paid unless the work sells. The goal is to sell books.

Online Speed Reading:

  • Time Constraints V. R. Duin says:

    Informative and entertaining content is more attractive and attention-getting than preaching, begging or sales spiels.

  • Speed Reading V. R. Duin says:

    Speed Reading grabs at readily available, technologically sound information of direct interest to the viewer.

    • F Reading PatternV. R. Duin says:

      Literary agents and book publishers are so overwhelmed with submissions, they may stop with the first line of the F reading pattern.