Tag Archive - Backstory

How to Get Readers into Your Story—and How to Keep Them There

We’re continuing our look this month at Fatal Flaw # 2—Nothin’ Happenin’. Last week editor Rachel Starr Thomson explained the pitfalls of front-loading scenes with too much narrative, and this week editor Linda Clare continues with the discussion, helping writers see what can be done to get readers quickly into your story, and how to keep them there.

In the opening of many novels, we see a character alone on stage, riding a train, plane, car, or donkey. Many times this character is gazing out a window (unless, of course, she’s riding the donkey), thinking. Some call this “driving to the story.”

Many times this type of “sittin’ and thinkin” scene is so loaded with backstory that readers don’t know when the real story begins—or worse, they don’t care. Let’s look at some ways to fix this kind of Writing that comes across as “nothin’ happenin’.”

The Wilson Principle

To hook your readers and get the story going quickly, your POV character needs someone to interact with. If you write only her thoughts, she has no one who will disagree with her. There is no variety or stimulating action. Just the character sitting, thinking. While an occasional scene opening this way can have a place in a novel, writers risk losing readers’ interest by taking this approach. Continue Reading…

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