If you’re a golfer, you know that if your stance feels right, your hands are placed properly on the club, your swing has a good arc and carry through, and your contact with the ball hits in the sweet spot, you’re ball will launch beautifully into the air. It’s the same with bowling. When you’re ball hits in the pocket at the proper speed, it’s a strike.What does all this mean to a writer?
For your writing to hit the pocket, or the heart of a reader, it must show feeling. Your writing is that ball sailing across the page toward the pocket. That doesn’t mean just thinking of a good chapter-opening hook or a chapter-closing hook. It means the whole chapter needs to grab the reader and not let them go.What does that look like, or better yet, feel like?
It means your chapters need constructing with the right emotion (swing) that can dance the words across the page in such a way that it holds the reader’s attention until the very end of the story. Those words must create interest, they must promise excitement through tension and passion, and they must call the reader to action, which is namely, to keep on reading.Sound easy?
It is if you keep your reader in mind as you write. Here are ten steps to help you construct that perfect story.
- Make sure your story flows logically. Simply put, follow the cause and effect method. Don’t have her jump off a building if she hasn’t climbed to the top yet.
- In golfing, before the golfer hits the ball, he has to be able to imagine the line and aim toward the flag at the hole. Likewise, the writer has to plan what each chapter needs to contain in order to build a successful story that will carry the reader’s interest to the end.
- For a story to have depth, the hero needs a backstory that adds complications to their life, affects their decisions, and interferes with the choices they make. What’s your hero and heroine’s backstory? Sprinkle it throughout the story. As the story develops, the reader needs to understand why the hero acts the way he does.
- Reveal character mood through scenery and action, through clothing and habits.
- Paint the story with powerful verbs and descriptive nouns. Don’t just say he got in his car. Show it. He wiped a smudge from his pristine Jaguar before he lowered himself onto the buttery-soft seat. His hand didn’t touch hers; it caressed hers. His love didn’t just warm her, it wrapped around her heart.
- Punch up your story with hooks and a compelling emotional journey for your hero/heroine that will draw in the reader and mesmerize them until the end of the story.
- Conflict should follow your hero/heroine like a puppy. A problem, new twist, unknown information should cling to each chapter and plague the character. Love, happiness, the solution to solving the mystery or catching the killer in a thriller, should always flea ahead of the hero/heroine just out of arm's reach. Make them suffer. Don’t give them what they want. Make it a journey to chase that dream.
- Storytelling thrives on tension, emotion, and passion and that translates to a hunger for the reader to stick with the story until it ends.
- Keep the readers guessing. Make the story unique and fresh. Paint the story with coloring that will interest, excite, and draw the reader’s core curiosity. It’s human nature for a human to be curious. It’s how electricity, the automobile, and the airplane were invented and why the caveman ventured out of his cave. They were curious. The reader, too, wants to see if the heroine and her love interest get together, if they extinguish the fire in time, if the plane lands safely, and if the hero gets what he wants after struggling all the way through the story.
- Tip: The best story-building tool that I found is the book Story Engineering: Mastering The 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing by Larry Brooks.