Dedicated reader Kitty Mady took a minute to check in with some advice for writers (and writers, we need readers, so pay attention): “Having just waded through half a book which confused me to no end, about two brothers with similar names but in different settings, I thought I’d pass along a suggestion: when using flashbacks or writing parallel scenarios, chapter sub-titles, dates or names help the reader identify these shift changes and remind us of who you’re writing about.”
Ever since the novel was invented (apparently by Joyce Carol Oates since she has the most), writers have experimented with different techniques to tell compelling and original stories. Sometimes experimentation results in a great new way to experience literature. But sometimes it’s just plain confusing. And may we add…some authors seem to snootily pride themselves on being so sophisticated that they become completely inaccessible to most ordinary mortals. Like us.
Back in college, a very helpful professor suggested that writers “show the hinges” from time to time. He meant that it’s OK to help the reader along by providing clues and reminders. For instance, as Kitty suggests, you can provide a date, a place, a context, a physical description etc. We writers know our characters inside and out, but a busy reader may have forgotten details such the identity of the villain’s sidekick. Reminding readers of his pronounced limp and greasy hair will bring them right back into the story. It’s okay to challenge the reading public, but not at the expense of losing them.
Kathi Kamen Goldmark and Sam Barry
The Author Enablers
Authors of Write That Book Already: The Tough Love You Need to Get Published Now
Visit us at www.kathiandsam.net
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