Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pitfalls -- No Velcro

Hi folks, I'm coming in today with an idea that comes from one of my writerly friends Kathy Whitehead. She's the author of two picture books Art From Her Heart and Looking For Uncle Louie on the Fourth of July. Recently she was reading one of my chapters  in critique group and came back with this: Your writing is too slick. It lacks velcro.

So velcro is a fastener that consists of  a fabric component that features tiny hooks and a second that features even smaller and "hairier" loops. When you touch the pieces together, they lock. Many people say that a book needs a strong hook at the beginning but neglect to realize the rest of the novel needs to be peppered with hooks. This mass of hooks will keep your readers glued to your work until the end. 

A big pitfall that I have run into is not peppering the work with the tons of hooks needed to keep readers ingrossed. One writer who does a fab job of peppering her work with hooks is J.K. Rowling. I mean the lusciousnes of her world building just keeps you glued.  Wands, butterbeer, Bertie Botts Jelly Beans, magical chocolate frogs, sorting hats, Quiddich...all the little details that serve as tiny hooks to keep us stuck to the story.

Characters need hobbies, quirks, favorite sports, best drinks, etc. Look at every descriptive detail as an opportunity to hook your reader. Remember never put a piece of cardboard in the place there should be a hook.  Make your readers care.

Consider this too. Volume does not make a description have a hook.  It's about interest not about amount. Hooks always include sharp smart writing and new twists on dry-as-toast ideas.  So dig into your smooth bland work and add the hooks.

I hope you add the velcro to the work this week! Come back next week for more pitfalls to avoid.

Here is this week's doodle: "Lamb".

And finally this week's quote:

As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world - that is the myth of the atomic age - as in being able to remake ourselves. Mahatma Gandhi


Vijaya said...

What a great way to think about keeping the reader hooked/glued throughout the story. I am tempted to go look right now ... but I think a month off from the ms is a good idea.

MollyMom103 said...

Yes, manuscripts must rest and the waiting is awful sometimes.

Candilynn Fite said...

Super advice from Kathy! Using Velcro as a metaphor is helpful. I love when authors use these tiny hooks, such as character specific details, to keep us turning the pages. The more I know about my character or situation, the more I invest myself.

Thanks for sharing with us, Molly. :)

MollyMom103 said...

Hi, Candi! Hope that your work is moving forward this week. I do love the tiny hooks too.

Faith Pray said...

So often I am such in a great rush to finish the dang manuscript, but this is really good advice. I want lush worlds in my work, and lots of hooks.

Marcia said...

Wow, I really like the Velcro analogy. I think it relates to Donald Maass's microtension.

MollyMom103 said...

Hi Faith, the pressure you are feeling is good. It helps you create the work. I think the idea of velcro makes the work time more productive.

Hi, Marcia, I like Donald Mass's books. He's a super-smart cookie. I'm reading his book Fire in Fiction ever so slowly so I can absorb the wisdom.