It wasn’t until I began to read each and every day that I started thinking seriously about writing. Once I decided that I want to do something substantial with my writing, I began to look at the material I was reading in a different perspective. No, I didn’t start looking for errors per se, although I do see them. I’ll leave the error corrections up to my mom. (Are most moms as critical as mine?) But I did start looking at the format of what I read and the style the authors chose.
When I read, I study how a writer starts his or her story. Many start with the beginning of the tale, but there are those who start in the middle, or even the end, and go to the beginning in the middle section of the story. Those writers who don’t start at the beginning intrigue me.
How do they know where they should start so that they pull in the reader’s attention and keep it? Sure, you grab the reader’s interest just by writing something like, “Now that I’m dead, what am I suppose to do?” Sure enough, it draws that attention. But will the author be able to keep that interest going through the entire story? The reader may be in for a letdown. If that happens, the story is more likely to be put down collecting dust before the last page is read.
How the written material is presented makes a big difference. No, I don’t know this from my own experience (as if you couldn’t figure that out). I took a free course at the University of Denver that attempted to teach me about “written presence” in journalism. I can only assume that these lessons applied to all types of writing.
The “Snowflake Method” of creating a novel seems to be popular in the realm of writing now. I tried it once. That was enough. Writing a story where you start with that one sentence that sums up the tale and working outward from there in all directions sounds complicated and confusing. I must be too conventional or something. A blogger I’m acquainted with said that doing the synopsis first would help those of us who are pantsers. I tried that too. This didn’t work for me either. However, now that I think about it, the “snowflake method” may help with the synopsis.
So far, I have read only a few books I’ve found to be sleepers despite the terrific beginnings. With most books I’ve chosen, I’ve marveled at the authors seeming to find it easy to keep the reader’s attention. How would I go about learning from these creative geniuses? I’m reading their books, studying and dissecting their methods to the craft. Yet, trying to apply their techniques to what I write is unachievable. At least, that’s the way it looks from my vantage point.
Many of these authors have a unique style to the way they approach their readers in their stories. This is something else I seem to have difficulty with. How is it that they can make me feel they are right there with me, reading their tale to me? I can tell you it isn’t because all of them write in first person, because not all do. Is it they read their stories aloud before having them published to assure the tone of the story is irresistible? Well, some do, but not all. Even so, does that have anything to do with the intense attentiveness they draw from me? I would say no. I know there are writers who would browbeat me for this opinion though. They’d probably say something along the lines of “If when you read it, it’s boring to you, it’ll be boring for the reader.” No duh! The thing is I read with my mouth closed. I think most readers do. Reading aloud still has its place though, just not for the solitary enjoyment. The eye-to-mouth connection helps point out errors that would never be found otherwise.
So, I still have these two questions tumbling inside my pea-brain. How do they do it? How is it done? Chances are there isn’t any set formula. There’s probably not even an open-end guide to help with these questions.
There are days when what I write or type fall into place like putting on a goatskin glove. It all fits so wonderfully. Other days nothing I write seems to jive no matter what I do. It’s the old “putting to round peg into the square hole” concept. Or is it the square peg into the round hole? Whatever—it just isn’t going to work.