Saturday, July 23, 2011

Playing the reader

I'm not ready to get into heavy critiquing just yet. I'll start when I get somewhere around chapter 35 to kind of scout out who's out there on sites like that's running manuscripts through the critique phase and might be willing to exchange critiques with me. I've read a few stories on several sites that are being run through now and the one thing that is sticking out the most is that too many consecutive chapters have the same pace, feel, and intent.

I have different types of scenes in my WIP. There are the scenes that are filled with action. There are those that convey non-action confrontation. There are the introspective ones. There are filler scenes that move the plot. There eerie ones. They are mixed up. Not artificially, but of necessity. Unless your book is one long high speed chase (in which case it's most likely not sitting atop the NYT best seller list right now), then there are changes of pace. The character have to progress through a series of obstacles, interactions, etc...The books that are up for review feel like this to me:
Character moves to setting one, assesses situation, fights and wins.
Character moves to setting two, assesses situation, fights and loses.
Character moves to setting three, assesses situation, fights and wins.
Character moves to setting four, assesses situation, fights and loses.

If it's a romance, remove "fights and wins or fights and loses" and replace with "gains the love interests favor or loses the love interests favor".

It doesn't feel like life. Life is variable. Life is like a piece of music that makes you think the second chorus will be like the first, but it changes it up to make it similar yet completely different. Play the reader. Throw the reader change ups. Don't get in a rut. It's hard to spot it in your own writing I think. If you have critique partners, tell them to look for it, and do them the same courtesy.


  1. Note to self - take out that very long car chase! Yes, you're right, Fred, I think it is hard to spot in your own writing - but then I find everything hard to spot in my writing!! Not saying this to brag - but when you've written 20 or so books with similar themes, it's hard to to find ways to make the stories move on in different ways.

  2. That's what they made the internet for. I'd visit some message boards and blogs you normally wouldn't like gun forums, sports forums, sailing forums. People talk about the craziest shit.