How many times have you picked up a book that just seemed to drag? And how quickly did you end up putting that book down?! Whether you are writing a piece of fiction that just popped into your head or you are penning your life stories, you want to keep the reader engaged. A great way to do this is to keep the story moving!
Here’s the inside scoop to ensuring your readers devour your work, and turn the pages so fast they get paper cuts! (No, I’m kidding – a paper cut should not be wished upon anyone!)
So, how do you keep the story moving? One way is by creating a scene.
Scene gives you a close up of what’s happening; imagine looking through a camera lens and zooooooom in until you are right in the room with the folks on whom you are eavesdropping. Scene captures the dialogue, the facial expressions, the gestures, the peeling wallpaper in the kitchen, the sound of the motorcycle through the open window, and the smell of last night’s fish dinner. It’s a virtual sense-feast. You can even get so close to the characters that you can hear their thoughts!
Now, be careful. You don’t want to describe everything to death (a sure way to get a reader to put down your book!) Consider the background details to be like the fuzzier part of the picture, slightly out of focus, so that the attention remains on the very important interaction happening between the characters. Don’t lose the story in the red and white checker print of the tablecloth with the orangey stain at the head of the table where Grandpa Joe ate his last meal of chicken parmesan just before his 82nd birthday the year before…yawn. Who cares? Unless the story is about how he choked on that piece of chicken, it’s really not adding to the story. Just the word count.
Here’s a little exercise:
Pick up the book you are currently reading, or one you have lying around. (You do have a book next to you, right? Remember, the two things a good writer does: write a lot and read a lot.) Find a page with a scene and see if you can identify how the author draws you in, makes you feel close to the story.
Here’s another little exercise:
Think back on an interaction you had today. Write a few paragraphs depicting the scene as though you are looking through a lens, shooting a movie. Write down what you see.
When you are done, leave a comment and let me know how it went!