On Saturated Prose, Pretentious Verbiage, And Clean Execution

Tell us what’s going to happen right away, so we can watch your execution. Revealing your purpose in the story can feel counterintuitive; you might feel afraid that you’ll give too much away, or that you’ll destroy the reader’s interest in the plot. But readers are often more perceptive than you think, and they are usually reading a book for reasons that are murky to you.

Why Do They Read?

People read books for tons of different reasons, but I can practically guarantee that their reasons do not in any way align with your reasons for writing.

Oh, Yeah? How Do You Know That?

I went to a performing arts school, and I spent a big chunk of my life watching amateur performers attempt to connect with an audience. I started teaching performance, and I was able to create a stable, consistent emotional bond between the performers and the audience. I see writing as a form of emotional performance, and I believe that the principles of sharing the self hold true in this written medium, as well as in the live performance model.

Great, So Acting Again

Yes, acting is a public sharing of the self with strangers. This is what writing stories is, and in writing, as in theatre, you are concealed, as the actor is, behind a world and characters that are not reflective of your true self.

Why Would I Give Everything Away Right At The Start?

Let’s look at an example to prove my point. I will write the opening of a story where the plot is hidden, and then I will write an alternative opening, and give away what is going to happen. You can see for yourself which is more impactful as a piece of writing.

Bad Writing:

Eueen thundered over the open plain, her bow gripped in her hand, and her tail whipping behind her in the speed of her flight. Her hooves cut sharp divots in the earth, and showers of thick soil cascaded like brown clouds in her wake.

The distant mountains were shrouded in a grey mist, and the sun broke through the thick layers of vapor like an overarching eye of bloody red ire. She stared at the foothills as she ran, and her jaw was set in a hard line.

Good Writing:

The young centaur who set out to murder the king of the seven lands carried nothing with her but a bow and a pair of homemade arrows. She left in the dawn, before her family had come out from the hovels they built of straw each spring.

The sound of her galloping flight over the open plains was heard only by the little birds that flung up, like blown leaves, out of the grass as she ran towards the enchanted palace in the grey mountains.

There We Are

If you create an expectation in the beginning, the reader is able to engage in your storytelling. The reader will watch the plot unfold, to see how you execute the promise of adventure.

This isn’t always the most effective way to begin your story, but it is a strong hook, and can create a heavy pull and investment in the reader’s mind.

You’ve been reading a blog about writing by Victor Poole. My books are over here. Seven witches come to attack Ajalia in The Magic War, which has very little to do with the fact that today is Thursday.

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