Saturday, February 25, 2012

Golden Advice: Turn the Page

Hi, folks, another week has rolled by. One big job of the writer is to get the reader to turn the page. My understanding about this is born out of my life long love of reading. I actually read very few books that make me want to turn every page. Today I will write about three lessons I've learned about turning the page from a reader's perspective.

1. A good start but it falls apart -- In this case, the writer really has some compelling characters, knows how to find the moment when everything changes, and understands how to launch the adventure. Then everything falls apart. The characters usually whine and cry a lot and the stakes don't rise, someone other than the main character solves the story problem, and finally there is the dreaded overhanded preachy message. I really moan at this kind of book because, like I said, they had a good start. I need more than a premise to turn the page.

2. A main character I just can't respect -- This happens in some books. The main character will put up with something I just don't believe should be put up with. The main character is abused or abuses in a way that seems unreliable and unsound. Another fatal character flaw is no of emotional roller coaster. It's difficult to really keep turning the page with someone who never laughs, is never angry, is never contemplative or ever worse is always one of these things. A sound character with a believable emotional arc will encourage me to turn the page.

3. Not enough stuff happening -- This happens in a lot of books. I will mention that I don't remember reading a book that I felt too much was happening. No, the real problem is dull stretches in every other book I read. One dull stretch is the endless conversation. The character is jabbering on with someone else and it's usually because the writer doesn't trust me to "get" the main character's motivation. I "get" it. Another dull stretch, I'm waiting for the terrible thing to happen, I know what it is, I'm waiting, and waiting, and waiting. When the terrible thing happens, I can always feel my eyes roll, and the word "finally" pops in my head. Last, I really don't care if there is mocha paint with cherries on the wall, is he going kill his stepfather or not? That's what I'm really into. Long boring descriptions of the setting -- no. I need stuff to happen to turn the page, I really do.

Well, writers, I hope this reader has given you an idea or two about what you should be doing. Keep working on your stories. BTW, I think this advice works for artist storytellers too. Seize the day!

Here is this week's doodle: "Girl"

Quote for the week:

It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have to give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imaginations--something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out toward people whose lives are quite different from their own.
Katherine Patterson


Faith Pray said...

Another sound post, Molly! I love the Katherine Patterson quote as well. I do so want to make the right choices as a writer. FINALLY just finished the first draft of the revamped novel. Now I'm going to re-read it with your page-turner glasses on. Thank you!

MollyMom103 said...

Hi, Faith! I love Katherine Patterson. She's one of those guiding star, folks.

I'm glad you will be turning pages one after another. I'm on chapter 13 of my revision. 33 more chapters to go...

In other news, I've finally started a best of my blog ebook. I'm jazzed about that.