The Amazing Flight of Little Ray
July 2017 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: 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. This is particularly true online, where there is an 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 Pattern is the manner in which eyes travel across online content. In a matter of seconds, visitors' eyes scan a page in this order: 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. This F pattern shows the importance of writing specifically for the Web, rather than re-purposing print content. Writers who attract attention, get increasingly greater attention. Surfers go and stay where the action is. Quality of content matters, particularly for unknown writers. Learning about the reading habits and needs of our target audience helps us project confidence when appealing to prospective readers.

On many social media sites, posts that are voluminous in content, or overly frequent and repetitious in nature, go unread and without “likes.” Worse, these posts may be off-putting to people who want to travel quickly through material from a maximum of connections. Social media posts and other Web writing should be specifically targeted to interest groups. A shotgun approach will miss more than it hits. Text that is not paired with images often loses views. Persons who do not read our language, or who prefer to read nothing, may like our images. “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. Reading word-by-word is rare, especially when conducting research into potential vendors. 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 scan down the left side of content, visitors will read the third word on a line less often than the first two words.

Writers must get to the point with creative writing for online social media and for websites used for marketing and promoting books. Otherwise, we quickly lose our opportunity to become known to others. Many readers may not get past the first line of the F reading pattern. This is particularly true for writers' submissions to literary agents and book publishers. Professionals in the literary world allocate mere seconds to each submission, if they are welcomed. With an agent, it can be helpful to request representation for contact of a specific person, company or organization. Blanket representation of an unknown author or of an unknown book for submission to publishers is likely to meet with rejection. Publishers do not want to take chances on unknown authors. The failure rate is too great. Agents do not want to promote failure. This is never good for reputations or careers in the literary world.

  • F-shaped pattern

    • Time Constraints admin says:

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

    • Speed Reading admin says:

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

      • F Reading Patternadmin says:

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