I wanted to write a post that summed up my views on writing. Specifically when it’s being read. I would hope of course that we all write so that someone can enjoy the story that we’ve told.
As it’s concerned, writing should be simplified. That’s not to say that it needs to be simple, only that it should be easily read and have a flow and ebb that are consistent.
Now, back in the days of yesteryear people would be okay with something a little long winded and wordy such as ‘The Lord of the Rings’. (Now don’t get me wrong it is my favorite book and an outstanding example of what you can do when you spend a lot of time building every detail of the world you’ve created.) Still, the attention span of people today is much shorter. You need to grab their attention and keep it until they turn the last page of the book. To me this means that now more than ever you must choose your words carefully to ensure the best flow and to allow the reader to be fully immersed in your story.
I’ve always thought of writing like a river.
You jump in at page one and are swept away downstream.
At times the water is moving slowly; these are the necessary moments of dialog or narrative. This is when you are given the opportunity to see the world around you, to feel and to taste all that the has been created in this new world.
At other times the water moves quickly; these are those intense moments when you are hand in hand with the hero (or anti-hero, if you prefer that) as you try to flee for your life or you rush into battle. The scenery around you is somewhat lost to the emotions that you feel as you are swept up into some conflict that is unfolding.
Throughout the river there are a multitude of rapids; this is when that magic sword is found, a dear friend is rescued, or the battle is at it’s peak. There is a sense of accomplishment and excitement when you share in the victory with the characters during these little milestones.
Eventually you come to the end of the river and there is a large waterfall. Now, you can hear the roaring from a distance but you can’t yet see how things are going to end, you can only guess as to what may come. Here you are facing the darkest evil and you don’t know at what cost the battle may be won.
Then there comes that moment in the story when you see the waterfall, the end is in sight, and the climax is about to be reached. Suddenly you are tumbling through the air and the rush of water and all seems lost… after what seems like a lifetime you surface and you realize that you’ve made it through the fall, the river now takes you slowly along to your final destination; most if not all of the loose ends are tied up and you climb out of the river marveling at the adventure in which you have just taken part.
Never at any point in that adventure did the river just turn around on itself. Never did it start and stop. And, it doesn’t suddenly disappear and reappear without warning.
The river may rise and fall, become wider and narrower or even split off and take different routes. But, it will always continue to flow, vanishing into the horizon.
Never should the reader want to crawl from the river or even worse be thrown from the river. If this happens they have been given pause because the flow of writing was lacking.
Think to any book that you’ve put down and never picked back up, or to any book that you’ve wanted nothing more than to throw it across the room and let it sit there forever.
Why is that? In some cases it may be due to poor character development or a dreadful setting, but in almost every case I can think of it was simply because the story started and stopped abruptly. This immersion in the story that is so important was suddenly gone.
I read to be a part of another world and take part in adventures that would never be possible, I don’t want to suddenly find myself thrown from that world back into my own just when things were getting interesting or when I had invested my time into the journey.
Remember to draw your readers into the water, immerse them, and don’t let them go until the end of this fantastic voyage.
Always ask yourself: What journeys await those that dive in?
Today and every day henceforth I will look upon my writing and think, does it flow like this river? Is it clean and clear like the shimmering waters that will sweep away those bold enough to jump in on this amazing adventure?
I encourage you to do the same.