Readers of fiction often complain that a book didn’t keep their interest, that the characters, story and/or writing just didn’t grab them. Today’s readers have shorter attention spans and so many more books to choose from. Most of them/us don’t have the time or patience for the lengthy descriptive passages, long, convoluted “literary” sentences, detailed technical explanations, author asides, soap-boxing, or the leisurely pacing of fiction of 100 years ago.
Besides, with TV, movies, and the internet, we don’t need most of the detailed descriptions of locations anymore, unlike early readers who’d perhaps never left their town, and had very few visual images of other locales to draw on. Ditto with detailed technical explanations – if readers want to know more, they can just Google the topic.
While you don’t want your story barreling along at a break-neck speed all the way through – that would be exhausting for the reader – you do want the pace to be generally brisk enough to keep the readers’ interest. As Elmore Leonard said, “I try to leave out the parts that people skip.”
Here are some concrete techniques for accelerating your narrative style at strategic spots to create those tense, fast-paced scenes.
–Andrew lets people know he is an author. But whenever asked to show what he wrote, he claims it is a secret. He fears letting others see the story, lest they steal the ideas and make millions on his hard work. He is more suspicious than the private eye in his whodunit.
–Benjamin avoids telling others that he is an author, though many people realize it because he is too busy writing to have a life. Friends and even professors enjoy reading what he writes for class, but he refuses to share his novel with them, always saying it is not yet good enough.
–Christopher regularly brags about his writing and readily shows it to others. He blogs multiple times a week and has self published several books in the year since he began his writing career. Unfortunately, you can guess the quality of it because of so much in so little time.
So, this brings back the question: When should you show your book to others?