Friday, November 11, 2011

Writing Tip of the Day: Keep Your Reader Engaged

A few suggestions on how to hold your reader's attention ....

• As Alfred Hitchcock said, shoot for suspense, not surprise.

• Remember that there should be at least some amount of tension on every page. If your character is drinking coffee and navel gazing, your reader may be tempted to turn on the TV.

• Don't follow your character's every waking moment. Allow lapses in time. (Don't over-think this. The simplest way to show time passing is usually best. The next day ... Later that afternoon ...  On Friday ... etc.)

• Use active verbs. "The protesters stormed the capital" is far stronger than "The protesters were storming the capital." Death to gerunds!

• Avoid too much info dump/backstory all at once  ...especially in the opening.

• Have your character behave badly/do the wrong thing.

• Consider condensing the time period of your story. Stories that take place over a few days/weeks/months tend to be more suspenseful than those that span years. (Nothing wrong with sagas, but it's easier to build tension if there's a ticking clock.)

•Your main character should have an inner journey as well as an outer one.

Hope you're enjoying these tips! To learn more about me or my books, visit my website,

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