The “Anchor Effect” of Bestselling Authors

Bestselling authors use a special tactic to influence reader engagement and perception from page 1 of the story.
This advanced writing technique is called, The Anchor Effect, and it can revolutionize your writing.
Simply put, the Anchor Effect is that whatever comes first affects everything else that follows.
In other words, order matters.
This method helps you focus on strategic structure, placement and arrangement of story elements.
Here’s how you can use the Anchor Effect in your stories:
•Craft the first sentence, page and chapter to establish what is most important to the story.
•Introduce the main characters first, before secondary characters.
•Show characters displaying their most notable traits first, from the moment they enter the story.
•Create the mood and tone you desire from the first page so readers know what to expect from the story.
•Build empathy for your protagonist right away, especially if they have unsympathetic traits, say, like being a blood spatter specialist for the police AND a serial killer.
Here are a few examples from my novel, Past Lives, about a man who discovers under hypnosis that he is a reincarnated serial killer.
In the brief opening chapter, an innocent victim is brutally murdered.
•This immediately sets the mood as dark and suspenseful. A violent killer is on the loose.
•The opening scene also tells the reader what kind of story to expect: Mystery/thriller.
•The reader discovers one of the major story questions right away: who is the killer?
•The reader also learns about the killer -he or she is a cruel sociopath.
Remember: reader perception is difficult to change once it’s set (kinda like an anchor can be hard to change once it’s lodged deep into the water), so manage perception upfront so readers know how to think and feel about everything in your story.
What questions do you have about the “Anchor Effect”?

Christopher Kokoski is a speaker, trainer and author of Wicker Hollow and the Past Lives novel series.

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