How to Create Powerful Articles with Disconnectors


    Imagine you were reading a mystery novel. You’ve just finished five pages. The story line is becoming really interesting.

    And then you turn the page

    And find the sixth page has been torn out. Now that’s really irritating, eh?

    But let’s suppose you decide to continue reading anyway

    And you move to page seven, and pick up the thread of the story. And you’re reading page eight, page nine, page ten.

    And page eleven is torn out. At this point, you’re more than frustrated.

    And this is the feeling that many readers have when they read your article.

    It’s because you’re not planning your disconnectors.

    So what are disconnectors?

    Disconnectors can be simply described as a sudden stop.
    So let’s say you’re telling a story.
    Or telling a joke.
    Or singing a song.
    A sudden stop in the middle of your story/joke/song would be a disconnector.

    But a disconnector isn’t a bad thing, provided you understand the difference between a planned and an unplanned disconnector.

    Planned Disconnectors.

    Planned Disconnectors are what you see on any TV serial. You’re watching this villain chasing the hero. The tension builds up. And it reaches a crescendo.

    And the scene changes to something else. Like a scene at the beach. What you’ve just experienced is a disconnection. One moment you’re watching a crazy chase. Next moment the waves are lapping on the sand.

    And this experience is a planned disconnector.

    But how do we know it’s a planned disconnector?

    Because the villain and the hero will show up again in the same serial. Which means the thread of the serial is to disconnect, then connect, then disconnect.

    And this planned disconnector allows us to pick up the thread of the serial.

    But what of unplanned disconnectors?

    Unplanned disconnectors are simply a factor of too many thoughts. Imagine that same villain chasing the hero. And you don’t see the scene again.

    The scene doesn’t re-connect at all. So you’re left with half a story.

    And that’s frustrating

    Because the reason you were reading the story, was because you were interested.

    If the story suddenly ‘disappears’, you’ve created a disconnect. The reader may tolerate the disconnect, as long as you bring up the connection later in the article.

    So let’s see an example:

    Peter worked for few years as a volunteer in a little village in Peru. He really enjoyed his work and felt he was doing something useful. Eventually he moved back to his own country, and got a job.

    35 years later, his professional life came to an end, as he had reached the mandatory 62 years retirement age. His volunteer Peruvian years came back nagging him more and more.

    What happened to the people he had lived with 35 years earlier? What became of the village? In the case of Peter, his time was filled with questions about the people and the village in Peru.

    It was difficult for him to focus on other activities. He eventually went to Peru.

    Martha felt that retirement age came to early. She still had things she wanted to do professionally. She resented seeing her years of professional experience as a bank manager almost being cancelled by the fact she reached retirement age.

    She felt drained of all her energy. She felt tired right in the morning when she woke up.

    See what happened in the story above?

    You got into the story of Peter and Peru. But the story suddenly disconnected. And went on to Martha.

    Now as you read further, you’d expect the writer to bring back the connection. To complete the Peter in Peru story, as it were.

    But most article-writers never bring back the connection

    They’re so eager to move to the next idea, that they fail to
    complete the first.

    They’re onto the next idea. The next paragraph. The next piece of information.

    And the reader is now totally confused. But reads on any way.

    But isn’t that the point of the article – get the reader to read on anyway?

    Yes, it is. As we’ve found, disconnectors provide an intense lift in drama. Or a drop in drama. But if the reader continues to find disconnects, and there’s no connection, the reader feels cheated.

    They feel like they’ve read to page five. And then page six is gone.

    And then continued to page ten. And page eleven is gone.
    This unplanned disconnect leaves an incomplete, icky feeling.

    And it’s not what you set out to do

    So either complete your story in the greatest detail (No, you don’t have to create disconnectors at all).

    But if you disconnect—disconnect deliberately! Or not at all.

    About the author

      Sean D'Souza

      Sean D'Souza is a writer, marketing guru and expert on sales psychology. Read more by Sean on Psychotactics.com

    • Thank you! Thank you!


    • Hah, that was nit picky, but hey it was a nice sort of nit picking. 🙂

    • Deb M says:

      Wonderful article about how to use and not use disconnects. Your analogy for the unplanned disconnects – the pages torn out of a novel – is great and describes the frustrations of the reader very well.

      I just can’t resist one real nit-picky, inconsequential, tiny, little thing – if you read up to page 5 in a novel and the next page is torn out – you’ll be missing pages 6 and 7 because they are printed back to back. You’d go from page 5 to page 8. Ha! I told you it was nit-picky. I’m sorry – this does little to further the discussion and has absolutely nothing to do with your very helpful article. 🙂

      I’ve seen your articles around in a few places lately and had just signed up for your newsletter this morning because of them. Thanks for all you share with us and thanks to Mary for having great guest posters.


    • I think what you’re describing is the crux to most writing. It ties in well with the old show don’t tell theory and more importantly, encourages the writer to always think about the reader. Give them enough to stay interested, but always join up the dots.

      Interesting article – thanks.

    • I am a total sucker for novels/films where the scene is set on something serene, like someone sitting on a park bench feeding birds, and then the scene cuts to the same person freaking out in a mental asylum, and you reaise the first scene was just in their imagination/in the past. I always love surprises in stories… these disconnectors really do add to the pace and rhythm of a story…I hope this comment makes sense?

    • Glad you’re finding the article useful. I use disconnectors all the time. And they’re great for building drama.

      Just make sure you don’t forget to connect later.

      Watch a soap, or a comedy tonight, and you’ll see disconnectors and connectors at various points. It’s not linear like the news.

    • Frances says:

      This is going to be very helpful. I now have to rethink the post I was going to do today.

    • Sean, this was very good. I believe that I possibly have left some articles finished and never went back and finished them because I got interested in some other line of thinking. I’m going to correct that problem.

    • Sean, I never thought of my posts this way, I’m going to have to be conscious of this when I write. Thanks for the input!


    • I happened to find a Psychotactics newsletter written by Sean in my inbox some weeks ago. And I read it from start to finish with relish.

      I was so excited to find an excellent newsletter that I thought, “This guy can teach us to put together really good newsletters.” Then I immediately emailed Sean to ask for a guest post.

      Here it is! But it isn’t exactly about writing newsletters.
      Of course not! Hey Sean, you’ve done a disconnect on me!

      Love this article, though!

      And if you’re struggling to learn to write newsletters (like me), sign up for Sean’s one at Psychotactics in order to see how it’s down.

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