Writers are always posed with that age old question: “Why do you write?” and my answer has always been changing. Initially I wrote because I wanted to. I had stories in my mind and I wanted to write them regardless of who read them. Then I wanted to write so I could be published. Then I wrote because I felt that it was who I was whether I got published or not. Then I did get published and realized I actually did care who read my stories (or not).
At this point in time I feel like I have to write, not only because I feel a need to, but also because I want people to fall in love with my stories. I want my stories to mean something to everyone.
Appealing to the Reader
Not everyone is going to love my stories. I have already made peace with this truth. I just have to look at some of my submissions to know that sometimes what I’ve written isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Especially when they tend to be dark.
As someone who reads a lot, I have come across books that just didn’t appeal to me either (last Wednesday Book Review for instance) so I know it happens. Not everyone is a Stephen King fan even though he’s one of the most renowned horror writers. I’m not reading Fifty Shades because it’s not what I would read, and from what I’ve seen in the writing, I wouldn’t enjoy it for that aspect either.
Nonetheless, I have received a number of compliments and comments from people who do enjoy how I write rather than what I write. There are books that I didn’t enjoy but the writing still drew me in. Which made me once again ask why I write but more importantly, am I writing for readers or am I writing for myself with them in mind?
The answer was neither. I was writing for myself and hoping others will enjoy the story as much as I did.
As a writer, you know what is happening in the story with greater detail than the reader. You know what the scenes, people, and world look like. Question is, are you translating that same world into your stories and doing so with writing that is appealing to the readers?
Writing that confuses or bores the reader is a definite no no. The story may be good but if the writing itself is tedious and drawn out, most readers will add it to their DNF (Did Not Finish) pile. If the reader isn’t engrossed in some way to the story, you have already lost. How do you overcome this?
- Appeal to their mind
This isn’t the common list of do’s and don’t when it comes to writing. It’s observations as a reader who is also a writer. One of these observations is: How often do I doubt the information I am reading. Even in fantasy , science fiction, or horror, the story and characters need to be believable and the writing non-distracting. I need to suspend disbelief long enough that my mind is lost in the book and not in the world around me.
This means no inconsistencies.
This means not reading words I have to look up or think about too often throughout the reading.
This means not noticing grammar or spelling mistakes or other things that remind me I’m reading a book.
- Appeal to the senses
It’s really difficult to read a book happening in a white space – where I have no idea where everything is happening. Reading there’s a waterfall, mountain, building, city or anything but don’t know if it’s small or big, what colours, shape or details there are, let alone what’s around it.
She saw the large mountain to her left and a dark forest on her right as she drove. The forest was eerie, as though creatures were waiting to pounce out from between the trees.
The morning sun peeked over the jagged, grey mountains to her left. Their tips were peppered white with last night’s snow. What little sunlight there was, glossed over the dense pine forest on her right, casting much of her view into shadow. She clutched the steering wheel tighter, ignoring the imagined creatures she thought ready to pounce from the twisting branches.
A little bit of detail allows us to see what the character is seeing, and feel what the character is feeling, putting us into their shoes. This works as well for all the senses: sight, smell, touch, hear, taste as well as other things such as sense of movement (the cat slinked between the couches), or emotion (his face and chest filled with a deep warmth when he saw her smile).
Combined into a full narrative, and reading is suddenly an immersive, enjoyable, experience.
Have you found yourself lost inside a book or unable to get into a book? Share your experiences with me 🙂