Wednesday, November 23, 2016
HOW TO KEEP READERS READING
By MARION UECKERMANN
“I couldn’t put the book down...”
That’s what all writers want to hear in reviews, isn’t it?
So how do we keep readers reading?
‘O Happy Day’ it was when I came across a formula by Dwight Swain that turned my critiquers’ comments from “...this is where I’d stop reading,” to “...as a reader I loved the conflict which works because often I was tired and needed to go to bed but I had to see the next sub to know what happened.” And if my crit partners felt that way, readers certainly would.
Fiction 101 is a course by Randy Ingermanson that I purchased some years ago. There he teaches about Scenes and Sequels; the two distinct types of scenes Dwight Swain identifies in his book Techniques of the Selling Writer. A Scene and a Sequel are both made up of three parts:
· SCENE (action packed)
o Goal (what does your Scene’s POV character want to achieve within the Scene)
o Conflict (without this the reader becomes bored!)
o Disaster (do not let your POV character reach their goal – this is your hook)
· SEQUEL (gives the reader time to catch their breath)
o Reaction (the Sequel POV character’s reaction to the Scene’s disaster - emotive)
o Dilemma (no good options)
o Decision (best choice under the circumstances – becomes the goal for the next Scene)
Being a Panster at heart, this method has made me think about each chapter before I write it because I now plot out the Scenes and Sequels first. It makes it easier to write, too. I do this by keeping an Excel spreadsheet for each story, with a page for each chapter. I’m sure there’s a way to do this easily in Scrivener, but I’ve not yet mastered the Scrivener monster. I still hope to someday, but for now I choose to remain old school with Word and Excel. So, here’s where I plot what to write in a chapter (see image below), where I go from Panster to Plotser (my interpretation of a Panster / Plotter hybrid).
“...kept me reading long into the nights,” formed part of a review of one of my latest releases. No doubt, I’ve Dwight Swain and his Scene / Sequel formula to thank for that. Again.
Do you want to have readers reading long into the night, too? Follow this formula. It will revolutionize your writing. It did mine. The first story I applied this method to was contracted for publication. And the second. And so on ...
USA Today bestselling author, MARION UECKERMANN’s passion for writing was sparked when she moved to Ireland with her family. Her love of travel has influenced her contemporary inspirational romances set in novel places. Marion and her husband again live in South Africa and are setting their sights on retirement when they can join their family in the beautiful Cape.