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There are three things that can really help you make sure that the story coasts along nicely and you don’t annoy your reader!
SHOW, DON’T TELL
When something happens in your story, showing your reader what happened is far more interesting than telling them.
For example: ‘Dave was very happy and so was Pete.’
OK .. you know they’re happy … but who cares!!
Now if you had said: ‘Dave couldn’t stop grinning, and Pete was lying on the floor crying he was laughing so hard.’
Much better. We didn’t tell anyone they were happy … but it’s pretty damn obvious their having a good time!
Telling your readers every detail of what’s going on is like having somebody sitting beside you at the movies trying to explain what’s going on in every scene. It’s annoying! You can figure it out for yourself! Have faith that your readers will figure things out just by showing them.
So that’s it! Show don’t tell. Sounds easy but it can be deceptively difficult.
Remember, be consistent!
The curious incident of the dog in the night-time is a fantastic example of how a writers voice can affect a novel. I highly recommend this book!
Establishing a sense of place is vital when writing your story
Try an writing exercise related to story flow and voice.
Every watched a movie and noticed a mistake? Imagine if you saw one of the Romans in Gladiator was wearing a digital watch, it would be very distracting. If you aren’t consistent with the details of your story your audience may become very distracted as they read.
As you write … make sure you are consistent with your details. Andy’s eyes green on page one? They make sure their still green on page ten … unless he’s been shot with some sort of eye colour changing death ray. The details are important and your readers WILL remember!
A good way to keep track of the details is to keep a ‘style sheet’. As you write your story keep a track of the details you think might be important. If your character hates eggs, has green eyes and is missing two fingers write these little facts down. A style sheet will help you ensure that your character has these same attributes all the way through the story.
No … this isn’t whether you put on a funny voice when you read your story out loud. Voice is your writing style, it isn’t what you are saying in your story, it’s HOW you are saying it.
For example, are you using playful language, or is the voice angry?
Playful: ‘It wasn’t meant to be like this. Monsters were supposed to be all growly and cross. This one was kind of funny!’
Angry: ‘This wasn’t the way things worked. Monsters were supposed to kill, they liked it, this one just wasn’t interested.’
Your voice can convey character as well. Compare the next two examples of ‘it was a dark and stormy night’:
Dizzy: "’Like, oh my god, it was dark and so fully stormy! Oh, and did I mention it was like, night time?"
Dark: "It was a bleak and tempestuous hour. Wind whipped streaks of bitter rain accross the dark street."
Try writing the same few lines with a mysterious voice, or a sad voice. You can see from this example how much it can affect your story. Think about the voice you want to use in your story carefully.