Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Writers Story Mistakes

Every writer, whether new or old makes mistakes - stumbles, creates glitches and otherwise does/writes things that are, well, mistakes. Some are small, grammatical or details. Others are really big, and still others simply happen and get lost in the shuffle when a writer is really into his/her zone and doesn't catch it on the first go-round.

After all, we writers know what we're talking about when we get the words down on paper so every one else should as well, right? 



I could write an endless post on the many things that can go wrong with a story, but that would be a long read so I think I'll tackle just one here today.

I believe one of the first rules writers should observe is Never Annoy Your Readers.

Yep, I know it's not your intent to do so, but there are times when reading books when I know the author is withholding information to tease or create suspense. But I'm here to tell you (and if you put your reader cap on you'll have to no doubt agree) that when you hold something back, when you don't give your reader what he or she is anticipating, it doesn't create any eager anticipation or mind-warping suspense.  Nope, instead it causes frustration, irritation and (horrors) dissatisfaction with your story.

Bad news.

You don't want to be predictable in how/what you deliver to your readers, but you do want to fulfill their expectations with something that will keep them reading.

Exactly what am I talking about? Well for one thing, don't leave your protagonist in the middle of an action scene. For example, if your character has been running from assassins, careens around a corner and drives off a cliff, your readers are going to turn the page wanting/expecting to find out if that character is dead, unconscious, hanging from the side of the cliff as the car plummets into the sea---something!

Because if you leave your reader hanging and start the next chapter perhaps with that character's significant other puttering around in her flower shop in Carmel your readers are going to be frustrated and impatient. Mostly they are eager to know if that first character who was sent over the cliff is breaking fingernails clawing  his way back up the cliff or in a hospital; if the assassins are still hot on his tail or missed the car going over the cliff completely. They don't want the action broken by a flower shop interlude, then come back to their primary concern a chapter later.

If you create an environment where your reader (and as a reader as well as a writer I know you've been here) wants to skip over a part of the story to get to the part they really want to read, you need to fix that part of your book.

Of course there are times when you might want to break this little rule, but you better have a very good reason and hone your writing well. 

Consider what your readers want as you write your book, consider what you as a reader want when you read a book. Put those expectations in the context of the moment of that story. 
Then fulfill those expectations - or better yet, give your readers something even more than they expect.


  1. Good article. I'm glad you did say, "Of course there are times when you might want to break this little rule, but you better have a very good reason and hone your writing well." There are those times.


    Tom Blubaugh, Author
    Night of the Cossack

  2. Yes, Tomy, there are times to break rules - none are hard and fast. More like guidelines as in Pirates of the Caribbean!

    Thanks for your comment.


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