So glad to be here! Thanks for joining me in my first post at Unicorn Bell. As a fellow writer, but more importantly as a reader and book purchaser, I love a good book! Don’t you? So let’s see how we can make ours better!
The best place to start is at the beginning. We excite the reader with a great hook, maybe an incident or intriguing characters, a problem arises, tension, relationship possibilities… go go go!
Then we have to stop and wait for the elevator. We have reached the tough middle. Hold on while I tell you some background and explain things and here’s an info dump, zzz to the easy listening muzak. We have lost momentum. (think Blues Brothers)
When I’m reading, if the beginning was awesome I might plow through the dull parts to see how it ends. But if I can predict it, I don’t bother since it seems I’ve already read the good parts. Could an agent think this too? Oh no! We don’t want that!
So how do we keep the reader turning pages, anxious to see what’s next?
- Is it imperative to the story? I love my back story. I know why my characters act the way they do, where they are from, their past training and experiences, but does the reader need this info? Most likely not. If the info has nothing to do with what is happening, cut it.
- Yes, it is. Fine. Keep it. And here is some advice I'm passing on as to how:
- Spread it around – dole it out in smaller portions, no big long narrations
- Avoid Bob – heard of “as you know, Bob?” this is where a character explains something to another character that they both already know, but the writer wants to tell the reader…don’t do it. This is telling - show it!
- Make it smooth – we may want to tell the reader back story right away, but wait for the opportune moment. Don’t force it. The trick is to sprinkle it into the action so the reader has no idea they are being educated.
Here is some more advice for keeping a reader hooked from Charity. And this just in, Abby wrote a post about putting problems into our story, on purpose!