How to avoid turning off your readers

Okay, confession time. I haven’t been writing for the past few weeks. Nothing but cold, wet weather and to top this misery up pops Daylight Savings Time. Yuck. Green sickly emoticon

But, today is sunny so, I’m back at my desk attempting to make some forward progress on my blog in addition to the 2 WIP sitting here.

You may ask what I’ve done all my time…

Ahem, Jean Cogdell BitmojiReading, reading and reading. Devouring books of all types. The good, great, bad and ugly. Some I’ve not been able to finish. Life is too short to spend hours reading junk. So, I may toss a couple of duds in search of a really good read. Found a few.

All this reading got me to thinking. Why do I reject a book after just a couple of chapters? Or even a few pages? And most of all, what can I do to avoid readers rejecting my stories? No writer wants them to run screaming from our books. Not unless we scare the pants off of them. LOL Nils Holgersson statute

Look what I found…

TOP 8 PROBLEMS THAT TURN READERS OFF BY CARLY HAYWARD

Ms. Hayward gave me a lot suggestions. Some I related to and some I need to chew on but all I want to avoid in my writing. Whether you write, children’s books, novels, flash or short stories these tips will help you tighten up your writing.

My takeaway…

  1. Head Hopping
    • While this may not bother some readers, it drives me nuts. I already striver to avoid this one.
  2. Missing Main Character
    • This happens when a writer fails to introduce the MC within the first few pages.
  3. Too Much Backstory
    • Okay, here is another of my reading pet peeves. Try not to put the reader to sleep with history.
  4. Floating Head Dialog
    • Ground the reader before throwing them in the middle of a conversation. If you must start in the middle of a conversation, make sure the reader understands who is talking.
  5. Action without Grounding.
    • We’ve all heard, start with action. But you still need to ground the reader or they won’t care what’s happening.
  6. The Recap
    • Easy going over past events. Instead of a character going over what led them to a place, show the reader what happened to avoid boring the reader.
  7. Distant Beginnings
    • In an effort to convey a sense of mystery a writer may leave too many details vague. Don’t. You need to let the reader connect to the character.
  8. Overdone Beginnings
    • Don’t start with a cliché. There are no new beginnings, but add something to yours and make it special. Hook the reader with something unique.

Be sure and click on Ms. Hayward’s article (here) and read everything she has to say about engaging your reader.

Which one of these 8 puts you off a book?

Do you have any suggestions to add to Ms. Hayward’s list?

PLEASE TAKE ANOTHER MINUTE AND LOOK ME UP ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY CLICKING ON THE LINKS BELOW.

AND STOP BY JEAN’S WRITING ANYTIME, I’LL LEAVE A LIGHT ON. 

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Urgent, What you need to know about writing

A recent article by author ALEXANDRIA Constantinova explains what sets successful books apart from the masses. If you want to have a competitive edge your story must have…

URGENCY!

Dictionary defines URGENCY as:

  • urgent character; imperativeness; insistence; importunateness.
  • urgencies, urgent requirements or needs.
extreme urgency baby meme
Courtesy of WEKNOWMEMES

Last week I wrote about seizing the reader. (click to read.) In that post, I talked about using the dramatic pause to capture a reader’s attention.

But, we don’t just want to capture a readers attention, we want to keep it and get them to share with enthusiasm. And that usually happens through word of mouth. Think back to the last book you couldn’t stop talking about…

What compelled you to tell others about the book?

Something made you want others to share in your love and excitement for the book. But what did that book have that others did not?

Even if you want to take the traditional publishing road, consider agents receive thousands of submissions each year. And of those thousands, agents usually take on between three – ten new authors a year. (Click to read more.) And should you choose to self-publish, your competition is thousands released every day. So we must write better than ever.

What I learned from Alexandra:

  • URGENCY must be woven into the fabric of the plot, character, and voice of your novel. It can’t be just slapped in as an afterthought.
  • No matter the genre, URGENCY must evolve naturally from the characters, in the plot and circumstances.
  • URGENCY, it is the Voice itself that makes the audience want to continue reading.
  • To achieve a well-rounded story, I should try and incorporate URGENCY in as many areas as possible.
  • Let my characters deal with conflicts in their way, NOT in the way I might deal with a conflict. This should prevent me from writing the same thing over and over. Hmm.
  • Any section where a reader’s attention might wander is where I need to add URGENCY.

There are 3 basic areas where URGENCY should be included:

  1. Plot which must include conflict.
  2. Character development.
  3. Voice

Places to add URGENCY…

  • First sentence
  • Last sentence of the first paragraph
  • Beginning and end of each chapter
  • Beginning and end of each section, IF divided into sections
  • When changing narrators or Points of View
  • Periodically throughout the novel
  • End of a novel IF it is in a series

I can’t stress it enough, head over and read Alexandria’s article. It’s jam-packed with information on how to write a stand-out, attention-getting, well-rounded novel.

Click this link and keep reading…

Urgency in Fiction, Part One BY ALEXANDRIA

OKAY, Y’all know I want to hear from you.

Tell me what you think about adding urgency to your story. 

Agree, or disagree? 

 

PLEASE TAKE ANOTHER MINUTE AND LOOK ME UP ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY CLICKING ON THE LINKS BELOW.
AND STOP BY JEAN’S WRITING ANYTIME, I’LL LEAVE A LIGHT ON. 

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Write like a professional, get the chapters right

By getting the word count right. How?

Scene by scene.

I’ve written in the past about the word count for books but a book is made up of chapters. And chapters are made up of scenes. 

A mixture of really short and really long chapters may give your reader a case of whiplash. Make sure that doesn’t happen. 

There is nothing wrong with varying chapter length or writing a book with all short chapters, but I’d avoid the extreme. Scenes set the pace and like stepping stones lead your reader through the book. 

Randy Ingermanson on Advanced Fiction Writing, reminds us to think SCENES not CHAPTERS.

Controlling Chapter Lengths in Your Novel

Things from his post I want to remember:

  • Chapters are stepping stones to take the reader through your book.
  • Chapters consist and are controlled by SCENES.
  • Varying scene length is okay. But be consistent.
  • A good average word count for a scene is 1000-1500.
    • A little more or a little less the Keyword is average.
  • A good scene count for a chapter is driven by the scenes.
  • My writing style dictates the word count for scenes.
  • Chapter word count is determined by the number of chapters in the book.
    • 70,000 ÷ 3,000 = 23 chapters
    • 70,000 ÷ 2,000 = 28 chapters
    • ? ÷? =? chapters (you do the math.)
  • Don’t pad a scene with words just for the sake of the count.
  • Only add words to a scene that move the story forward.

Be sure and click on Randy’s link above and read his article. He has lots more to say about writing scenes that add up to a book.

Do you think in scenes when writing a chapter?

What do you think is a good length for a chapter?

Do you write the scenes first and then divide up into chapters?

Have a tip about finding that chapter/scene balance? Do share.

 

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Are you looking for beach books?

Have you made a summer reading list? If not, these three will get you started.

If you have, add these three to your list.

1 Literary, 1 Mystery and 1 YA there’s something for everyone.

I read for pleasure. The last couple of weeks have been pure bliss. Choosing a book, is like choosing a rich dessert. A dessert so yummy that my taste buds tingle and the flavor lingers long after the last bite. A good book is when the words or story stay with me long after I read the last page.

Even books I read for research, I choose with care. Enjoyment is my first priority. Life is too short. This morning I’m sitting on my porch, enjoy in a cool breeze and savoring the last of three books. Books that tingled my mind and left me with the realization I’ve a long way to go before I can stand in the shadow of these writers.

I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. Summer is here and I know many of you are looking for great books to read. So here they are, three books to keep you turning the pages, and savoring the phrases late into the night.

  • Alice I Have Been: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin, is on sale now for $1.99 (Kindle Edition) Grab this while you can it is normally $15.99

A love story and a literary mystery blending fact and fiction. I surprised myself, enjoying this book as I did. It’s not usually my type of book but the writing is beautiful. Ms. Benjamin captures the passionate spirit of a woman who was truly worthy of her fictional alter ego in a world as captivating as the Wonderland only she could inspire.

For mystery, crime and whodunit readers this Edgar-winning novelist Michael Connelly creates a new hero who is a lot greener but no less believable. This was a fun, nail-biting thriller, with a surprising twist at the end. It’s been years since I read one of Mr. Connelly’s books, but I won’t wait years to read another one.

I finished this book late last night. Although, listed as a YA book, I think Mr. Green writes for all ages. His rich words are musical staying with me long after I turned out the light.

This book is a funny, engaging coming of age book. Mr. Green gives his characters real flesh and blood as few authors can. A beautiful story of growing up, adventure and complicated people. I laughed, grew sad and laughed again.

 

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