Our Managing Editor, Dusty Grein, often uses the analogy that a book should play like a movie in the reader’s mind. It’s the author’s job to make sure that movie plays through and the reader forgets they’re looking at words on a page. To enthrall our readers to the point they can’t put our book down. That is the goal of every author, isn’t it? How can we ensure our readers are sucked into the world we’ve created?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but there is a proven method of success: show, don’t tell.
Think of your favorite stories… Did you see word-filled pages OR the scenes play out in your imagination? Most of us will probably say the latter. Why? The authors took time to craft a story that SHOWED us every scene. They wrote to activate and engage every sense.
There’s a difference between storyteller and author. To create a world that grabs your reader and holds them captive until ‘the end’ it has to be engaging. If we’re being told something, most of us have the tendency to let our eyes glaze over and our minds wander after about the first five minutes. Okay, maybe that’s just me.
Could you get through 100,000 words of someone telling you everything about a world and people you know and care nothing about? No? How about 50,000? No? Hmm…
What if they showed you that world? No, not with a picture slideshow ala Great Aunt Bertha’s family vacation but with a moving image that pulls you in. What if they showed you the mind of the person in the movie so you smell what they smell. You see what they see. You even hear their thoughts and they’re oddly similar to your own. How could you not identify with that character and have a vested interest in their plight?
Give your readers that sense of wonder.
The Askew challenge: stop telling stories. Use the power of your words to show the story.