We, the readers, have total control over your story. We control when we start to read and when we stop. You cannot force us to do anything. This is our choice.
We want to read stories filled with a sense of continuity and life. We are looking to step into the characters’ skins and to be immersed in new worlds.
Problems grab our attention. The more difficult the problem, the greater the hold the story has over us. The job is to show us how it is done. Hook us, play with us and don’t reel us in till the end.
Even though when we read a story, we recognise people and details from the real world around us, these stories would be pointless had the hero not been extraordinary in one way or another.
We can quickly lose interest if the hero is not somehow out of the ordinary. She may wear the mask of the common woman, but underneath this mask lies the true hero.
There are no rules out there, but there are sins and the cardinal sin is boredom. Robert McKee
The bored reader puts the book aside. Why? Possibly the writer grew enchanted with his powers of description and failed to keep the ball rolling. Characterisation, theme, mood; none of these stand for anything if the story is dull. Yet, if the story grabs you, all else can be forgiven.
The reader is asking three questions ’Why is this character here? What is he doing? And why is this happening now?’ Don’t disappoint but deliver the goods. Buying the book is a contract between the writer and the reader. What do they expect? Know this and deliver.
Never give the reader anything they don’t need to know. Only tell them only what they need to know to follow the story, allowing you to save the best for last.
Make the reader wonder what’s going on by putting them in the same position as the character. As long as the character wants something, the reader will want it too. As long as the character is attempting to get something, the reader will wonder whether or not he’s going to succeed. Few things are more intriguing than secrets.
A sheet of glass separates you as the writer from your readers; the readers will experience the story from the other side of the glass. To hear you for just one or two moments interrupts their experience of this storyworld.
Imagine yourself to be the director, not an actor and keep your story visible on stage and yourself quiet.