Have you ever frowned, when reading a novel, and thought, Really?
Quick writing tip for today: be careful that you don’t puzzle or annoy readers without meaning to, by not giving them the facts they need.
I recently read a children’s novel which was written in the first person, and it wasn’t until several pages in that I realised the character was a boy, not a girl. The author is female, so I unwittingly assumed the character was a girl. Because the character was saying me and I, (instead of a narrator saying he or she), I couldn’t see he was a boy until he met a friend who addressed him by name – and it was a boy’s name. Hmm.
The thing is, as authors, we are so familiar with our setting and our characters, we can assume things unintentionally.
Perhaps our animals can talk, but we haven’t thought to tell our readers. Perhaps the reader assumes the action is taking place on earth until a spaceship arrives from Russia! Perhaps your protagonist is a redhead, but you don’t mention this fact early on, so readers picture her differently.
Readers feel cheated if they suddenly find out some fact they feel they should have known earlier, and have to change the picture in their heads.
Clarity is key!
I’m not talking about information you are deliberately keeping from your readers, or allowing them in on bit by bit. Some facts are good to keep back – the treasure is fake, the girl is a spy, the man who said he was an uncle isn’t related to them at all…
It’s great to have a twist!
I’m talking about facts your readers should have known but you haven’t thought to tell them.
So writing tip of the week is: beware of confusing/annoying your readers.
Hope that helps! If it does, please share with your writer friends!
P.S. I’m going to go live on our Facebook page today, at 5pm (Monday 4th May), to discuss writing dialogue (as requested by writer-for-a-reason, Pam). I hope you can come and join me! This is the link to the facebook live. Feel free to bring any writing questions. Hope to see you there! (Quick warning, I need a haircut, so don’t look too closely. :-))