Are You “Cheating” Your Way Into Hooking The Reader?

Stop writing mechanically, and start telling stories that flow organically from the heart.

Cheating, in this instance, means diving straight into the character’s thoughts and feelings, and inhabiting, as the writer, a space just next to the character’s heart.

As you write the action, your nearness to the “narrating” character, as it were, allows you to convey a strong sense of flow, and a constant series of impelling world revelations.

I call this cheating, because the original, “fair” way of writing means organizing, from the outside, a series of events and fictional people, and then painstakingly orchestrating sentences to allow the reader to absorb the scene.

If you place yourself, as the writer, just beside the core of your main character, (and if, before that, you have created a character composed of authentic, living energy) you essentially bypass all the writerly “work” of writing.

You tell a story that is driven by an organic, dynamic character, and the plot unfolds at precisely the right pace. The events are simple at first, and grow complex as you continue to follow the path of the character’s heart and actions. World-building is natural, easy, and intuitive.

(If this sounds like a good way to write, you might want to check out my fantasy series, which is a cleverly-disguised creative writing course. The books are designed to reshape your mind, and bring you to think in terms of organic character growth, relationship formation, and overall framing of story. You don’t have to do anything but read; my books do all the work for you.)

Ocher’s Daughter

Florence stared at Jim. He had always been sweet, she thought, but the particularly innocent bulge of his eyes made her skin crawl. She hoped that he would not ask her to go with him to the tavern again. I don’t want to go to the tavern, she thought, and she attempted to look distant.

Florence had the idea that if she glared hard enough, and scowled, Jim would pick up on the fact that she did not want to marry him. Unfortunately for Florence, her scowl made her features crinkle into an adorable snarl; her brows drew delicately down, and her fine nose wrinkled, like the snout of a disgruntled kitten. Jim liked her very much when she frowned.

“I was thinking,” Jim said, slipping his hands into his pockets, and glancing sidelong at her. Oh, no, Florence thought; she stared hard at the saddlery across the street. Jim didn’t say any more, and she turned her eyes to him.

“What?” she asked. Jim smiled, his goggling eyes shining with irritating affection.

“You and I could go and look for those monsters,” he said. “We could collect the bounty.”

His answer surprised Florence; she had not taken Jim as any kind of adventurer. Moreover, she had not realized that she could, in fact, leave town on such an adventure. She had been cooped up with her father for so long, and constrained to the bounds of the houses and streets, that she had grown accustomed to the endlessly-serene lapping of life against the people here. Now that her father was gone, she reflected, there was nothing holding her here.

Florence regarded Jim thoughtfully.

“What do you think?” he asked. “Will you come with me?”

“I don’t want to,” she said. She looked at him for a moment, trying to think of some way to get rid of him. Jim’s expression hardened when she said she did not want to go with him; his chin thrust forward, and his lower lip crept between his teeth. She could see that he wanted to ask “why.”

I’m not going to tell him, she told herself determinedly. And I’m certainly not going to change my mind, she added.

Jim’s face, which had become almost vivid with annoyance, hardened. He seemed, to Florence’s mind, to have reached some inner determination, and she watched him cautiously. I hope he is going to tell me he never wants to see me again, Florence thought, and she waited with some impatience to hear the words that she could see gradually forming in Jim’s mouth.

His voice left  him haltingly, reluctantly, as if he held the words back, and released them with grudging anger.

“What if I brought Vince?” Jim asked.

Florence’s insides went through a revolution; her heart fluttered, and her cheeks grew hot. Her palms became suddenly warm, and a thrilling vibration passed through the center of her being.

“Would Vince come with us?” she asked. Jim glared at her; he no longer looked affectionate. His mouth had pursed into a malignant line, and he looked resentful, and moody.

“Yes, he’ll come,” Jim said shortly.

“I’ll go and get a change of clothes, and my father’s purse,” Florence said. She saw Jim hold in, with apparent pain, an indignant snort, and she smiled at him, and hurried away.

Vince, she told herself, was everything a young man ought to be, and was, in her opinion, the diametric opposite of the glassy-eyed and bumbling Jim. Vince was a person whom she would gladly embark on an adventure with in the wild places beyond the town. There will be so many opportunities for use to build up camaraderie, and special memories, she told herself as she strode down the street.

The end goal in her mind, as she walked, was a nebulous ending in which Vince looked at her fondly, and then gathered her tenderly into his arms, and pressed his lips to hers in a glorious and overwhelming kiss.

Florence sighed, and tramped up the stairs to her dead father’s house. She slipped through the open door; she had been in the process of moving to the boarding house across town; her father’s effects she had already disposed of, and her own things were neatly packed into a trunk that she was sure Mrs. Bellows would keep for a nominal fee.

I’m going to go adventuring, she told herself, and she began to throw extra underthings into her father’s old traveling pack.

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