Good short stories and novels are often by writers that have a keen understanding of the need to intrigue the reader by creating tension.
Intrigue works in various ways and it is an important tool if your reader is going to stick with your work.
One way of creating intrigue is something in your early lines, something that makes you sit up and want to read more. It is called The Question and it lifts the start of a story into something special. Catching the reader’s attention is crucial and a good early question does the job beautifully.
But there is another, more subtle way, and done right it can be very effective. But, for the writer, it comes with a gamble.
The idea is that, in the middle of ‘straightforward’ narrative, you drop in something, sometimes just a line, sometimes just a word, but something that nags away at the reader. Maybe they missed it first time around then go back to check.
It is like having a conversation with a friend who suddenly says: “Of course, there’s that other thing that has been worrying me.” At first hearing you might miss it but within
seconds you are going back to the line and saying “Thing, what thing?”