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 used for marketing and promoting books. Otherwise, an opportunity to become known to others may be lost. The time constraints imposed by highly scheduled and tightly structured lives leave few people with time to read lengthy material. Many people cannot, or will not, read more than a few brief lines at a time. Rarely does anyone read anything from beginning to end. Colors, trim and images may maintain, direct and hold attention better than black and white text. The current trend in the distribution of entertainment and news information is through audio and voice platforms. Voice texts are enabling the transmission of voice messages to be heard at one's leisure.

Time constraints increasingly result in online speed reading, due to the abundance of material to scan. Studies show that people read in an F reading pattern: most of the first line, a skim down the left margin, and a partial line view before moving away. This F-shaped pattern is the manner in which eyes travel across online content. Often, this scan is interrupted by travel to another link. If it is an audio or visual link, it may captivate attention. 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 five websites.

In a matter of seconds, visitors' eyes scan a page in an F reading pattern: across headlines at the top of the page, down the left side of the page for highlighted points, then across the middle of the page for bold text or sub-headlines. Time constraints reflected in this F pattern shows the importance of writing specifically for the Web. Web pages should be focused by subject, rather than compiled like a book. Re-purposing print content rarely will accommodate the demands of online speed reading. Surfers want material with key points highlighted with bold type, bullets or lists for rapid scanning. Increasingly, audio and visual media are pressuring print media for attention. It can be faster and more convenient to hear information rather than to read it. Listening can be done almost anywhere and while doing other things.

Writers who attract attention, get increasingly greater attention. People tend to share popular content, because there is status in forming part of huge numbers. Surfers go and stay where the action is. Quality of content matters, particularly for unknown writers. Learning about the time constraints, reading habits and accommodating the online speed reading needs of the target audience helps writers project confidence. When appealing to prospective readers, it may be necessary to embrace irreverent and humorous content. It is important to provide well organized information from the perspective of the target audience. Writers must be bold. 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. Due to time constraints, lengthy texts and oversized images are rejected in online speed reading across the Web. Scrolling and panning are frustrations that few viewers are willing to undertake. In keeping with the F reading pattern, long and confusing productions of any nature are unlikely to maintain attention through to completion. Attention is subject to wandering. Self-serving content also is likely to repel readers. A social vacuum can quickly be created for a writer with a dark preoccupation for recognition from peers. The ideal notion of one's own qualities often falls short in the eyes of colleagues, relatives and friends. Writers are often poor judges of their own work and platforms.

On many social media sites, scripts that are voluminous in content, or overly frequent and repetitious in nature will be stopped by the browser. Not only does this content go unread and without “likes.”, these browser alerts may drive away future traffic. People driven by time constraints adopt the F reading pattern to travel quickly through material from a maximum of connections. Nobody wants an activity frozen, or the resultant delays of closing down and reopening to interfere with online speed reading. Nobody will return to a slow website. Tech users are increasingly frustrated with the profit motives and privacy invasions of social media platforms and the businesses they serve. The targeting by personalized online ads is alienating people obvious from advertisers.

“Likes” are good in any and every language. For this reason, they have become one of mainstream's measures of a writer's potential for success. Few surfers read online text thoroughly, due to time constraints. Reading word-by-word is rare, especially when conducting research into potential vendors. Modern readers seek paragraph breaks in text. The first two paragraphs must contain the most important information. Of course, visitors are likely to read more of the first paragraph than the second. In the final leg of the F reading pattern down the left side of content, visitors will read the third word on a line less often than the first two words. Distrust in the data abuses and fake news on social media may be causing many people to spend less time on social media.

Some readers cast an eye over the first line of the F reading pattern, and stop. Time constraints and the need for print and online speed reading are particularly present with writers' submissions to literary agents and book publishers. Professionals in the literary world allocate mere seconds to each submission, if they are welcomed at all. Very few writers find agents. Most books sold by big publishers are agented. To gain the attention of an agent, it can be helpful to request representation for contact of a specific person, company or organization. Literary agents do not want to take aim at a broad target. It's too hard to hit the right spot. Writers need to create a legitimate interest in their brand name and their productions.

Blanket representation of an unknown author or of an unknown book for blanket submission to publishers is likely to meet with rejection. In the literary industry the need for print and online speed reading is acute. Submissions are unlikely to be granted the time it takes to follow the F reading pattern. Time constraints lead literary agents to represent celebrity writers or those with publisher interest. Unknown writers generally are ignored. Publishers do not want to take chances on unknown authors. The failure rate is too great. Agents do not want to promote failure. Agents are known in their industry. Failure is not good for reputations or careers in the literary world. Moreover, legitimate agents do not get paid unless the work sells. The goal is to sell books.

F Reading Pattern Is for Speed.

  • Time Constraints V. R. Duin says:

    Time constraints make informative and entertaining content more attractive attention-getting than preaching, begging and 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.