Editing Tip #35

Writing A Page Turner: Pt 6

Puzzle Building BlocksWhat was that about good intentions…?

Luckily that saying has nothing to do with finding the intent or purpose of the scene or chapter you’re writing. In fact, good intentions can strengthen and bring power to your work.

Intentions when writing are not those excuses the devil laps up and paves hell with. No, they are the solid goals we writers make that give some semblance of structure to our work.

Every chapter, if not every scene, should build on the reader’s understanding of one or more aspects of your novel: plot, setting, character, theme, etc. Unlike Seinfeld, we can’t write about nothing and have it sustain our readers. If a scene or chapter doesn’t resonate with importance in some way, you risk boring your reader and losing them altogether.

We don’t want that. We want page turners. We need to infuse our scenes with purpose.

Having a single goal for a scene is perfectly acceptable for helping you write a page turner. Having multiple scenes, and thus multiple goals, within a chapter keeps eyes glued to the page.

Be careful what you choose to reveal.

If you give away too much information, you risk answering questions that would have compelled your reader to turn the page. By hinting at the greater meaning of an idea or briefly touching on the importance of a concept/person/location/etc. and teasing it out over several chapters (or even the whole book if it’s really big) will keep your reader engaged.

Be mindful not to linger overlong on any one way of revealing bits of information or your readers will come to anticipate this and start saying to themselves, “Oh, here we go again.” And if that happens, you’ve lost them.

The clarity of your writing will come through if you are able to set these intent-goals and find new ways of relaying this information to your reader. This is the craft of writing, the balance, the dance, and the art of what we do.

Remember, it’s okay to stumble along the way. The beauty of revising is knowing that if you don’t get it right the first time, you can try it again when your mind is fresh.

Simple questions to ask yourself:

What should the reader know by the end of this chapter?

What is happening to relay this information?

Is it enough?

Is it too much?

Have I used the same technique too many times in a row?

Am I focusing on different elements (plot, setting, character, theme, etc.) each time?

When do I ask a question and where does it get answered? (e.g. Your character says, “Last night wasn’t the first time.” As readers we are clued into the fact that this person has experience in such matters and we ask ourselves: how much experience? what were the circumstances? why don’t they say more about it? Did something bad happen? – you get the idea.)

Happy Editing!

Categories: Editing

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