Welcome back to, Don’t Get it Right, Get it Written! By Stuart White
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Stuart continues his tips on how to….KEEP YOUR READERS’ ATTENTION
SORRY, BACK TO CHAPTERS
Chapter Two: We start the journey. Molly is a wretched kid. Her mother is unloving, her father a brute, but she loves school. It’s her sanctuary. One day Gretchen is asked to take part in a school play. To her delight she does it and gets applause. She gets hooked on applause. Gretchen’s just a child but now she has stars in her eyes.
Then….no I’m not going on, this is for YOU to do. As in, Chapter Three, another development, Four; another…and so on…by halfway through she’s arrived in Hollywood a young starlet.
Each chapter is taking you through another phase of the story.
ENDING AND STARTING CHAPTERS
Here’s a professional tip. Much like with scenes in movies, let each one propel the story forward, add to your knowledge of the story and take you on.
And try to leave each chapter on a precipice moment. There’s nothing worse than reading a chapter that does NOT make you immediately want to read the next one. So for example, instead of, “And with that Gretchen popped another pill, and drifted off to sleep. She had a four am wake-up call for the studio.” Really? So what? She’s gone to sleep has she, yeh, yawn, I’m nodding off too, I think I’ll put the book down.
The Precipice Moment
So how about, “Gretchen drifted off to sleep in her usual moral despair. She had a four am wake-up call for the studio. But after the amount of sleeping pills she’d taken she wasn’t entirely sure she’d be alive to hear the alarm. More poignantly, as the abyss of the narcotic-induced sleep swallowed her, she prayed with all her heart that she WOULD never wake.”
Get it? Wow….she might have overdosed. This woman has everything and doesn’t even wasn’t to wake up!!!!
Now your reader isn’t drowsy at all. Your reader damn well wants to know if Gretchen will die or not.
So another tip: don’t tell them – yet. Definitely don’t start the next chapter with, “In fact Gretchen woke up quite easily when the alarm went and felt quite cheerful.” Whoa…lack of suspense.
Better to open somewhere else. A sound stage at MegaBucksMovie Studios. “Director Harold Menton was incandescent. His star was late again. Three minutes from shooting and she was nowhere. He screamed at his assistant, “Where the f*** is this cut-price Marilyn Monroe? She’s late again?” His assistant quavered, “I don’t know Mr. Menton. We called her at the usual time but she didn’t answer. The hotel staff can’t seem to get in the room.”
Keep Your Readers’ Attention
So the reader is going, “Oh no she DID it! She overdosed. She’s dead, oh no…” Seconds later Gretchen comes sweeping in majestically looking a million dollars, kisses Harold, and says, “Dahling! Sorry I’m late, the traffic on Sunset is murderous and the studio driver is a moron.” Phew. Get the picture? Pick the reader up and hold them; tease them, tantalise, torture them with suspense if you can. Then surprise them.
TO BE CONTINUED…..COME BACK TOMORROW FOR MORE GREAT WRITING TIPS. Don’t Get it Right, Get it Written!
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