Thursday, October 3, 2013

Trap The Reader

The poster quote above has a glaring typo or misspelled word in line 5, but the substance of what Marileta Robinson says is worth our time to read and consider.

I liked the idea of snaring the reader and keeping him trapped within the story until the end when we will let him go. It's what every writer should aim to do with the story they write. Doesn't matter if it's fiction or nonfiction. Our aim is to pull the reader in and keep him there until we are finished.

I had just such an experience earlier this morning. I read a revised chapter 1 of a novel a woman in my critique group is workin on. She had submitted the chapter a week or two ago and received plenty of crits with lots of suggestions. To her credit, she took those suggestions to heart and reworked the chapter, then submitted it to the group last night. I began to read and was soon swept into the story which is set in Venice. Before I knew it, I was eager to keep reading to see where these characters would take me next. She had captured my interest and held it to the very end of the chapter which left me wanting to turn the page.

Alas and alack! I have to wait until she subs chapter two, and it could be another week or more. That's one of the drawbacks of reading a novel, chapter by chapter, in a critique group. With the first submission, I had mild interest but with this new one, my desire to read more raised considerably.

Within this first chapter, I learned where the story takes place, I was introduced to four characters, one of them only minor but serving a purpose. I gained some background about two of the characters, and an event took place that will feature greatly in the overall story, or so I believe. Cheers for this author! I must say, however, that so far, I am not admiring any of the main characters, would not be on their side yet. Note I said, yet because I am hopeful that at least one of them will change in some way before the end of the novel.

Think about one of your all-time favorite books. Why is it a fave? What did the author do to capture your interest and keep it in your memory for many years? Find a copy of that book and read it again, but this time read it with the eyes of a writer. Figure out why the book is on your Favorites list. Then strive for the same kind of thing in your own writing.

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