Every text, after all, is a lazy machine asking the reader to do some of its work. —Umberto Eco
Let’s face it writers: we have a problem. And that problem is readers. The reader is basically the partner we get stuck with for the group project. And to us, the group project is exciting and interesting and wonderful and we’re happy to labor over it. But the problem is that the grade depends on both of us.
Don’t believe me?
Look at this one-star review of Beloved by Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison:
“This is probably my least favorite book I have ever read.
It definitely embodies all the things that make me hate books.”
—Random Person on Goodreads
Sometimes the reader is an absolute star and is as passionate about the story we’re telling as we are. And sometimes it’s someone who hates books but still feels the need to review them on Goodreads.
Nothing, of course, will make someone who hates books love your book, unless maybe your book is made out of chocolate and they can eat it. That said, great writing can definitely help turn a resistant reader into a fan.
I used to teach writing to at-risk teens. One of them told me that he didn’t like reading... “except for Hatchet.... I loved that book.” And then, to make sure that I understood that this did not make him some kind of book-liking guy, he added, “I stole it.”
A writer’s job is to capture the reader’s attention and hold it. And that isn’t just about relating what happened to whom, although it definitely helps to have interesting events happen to interesting people.
But that is not all there is to it.
No, you have to tell those interesting events about interesting people in an interesting way. There are many ways to make stories even more interesting: vivid images, strong verbs, symbols, and strong voice are a few.
That’s why Bookflow offers a new mini-lesson on the craft of writing every week. Great writing lifts great stories. Take a look at this week’s lesson: first person point of view.