1. Sonata
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    Sonata Member

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    keeping the reader interested

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Sonata, Jun 22, 2010.

    I'm writing a novel which has characters set in real life places. It follows them and their relationships throughout a large chunk of their lives from a young age.
    I have plots and a story line written, which evolves with every day of writing (it's hard to keep up with it at times!) and I have recently begun writing a first draft.

    My problem is self doubt - even in such early days I'm doubting whether my characters are interesting enough in their young lives to pull the reader forward with them into adult life. I'm trying to have them drop little hints and tidbits about past,future and secrets and then I'm worrying that I'm cramming too much information in too early on.

    I'm so deeply involved with this story already that I'm struggling to let go of the detail and get on with letting the first draft flow out! I'm always like this a little but I'm finding it harder than usual to break free of my obsessive nature this time round and it's stunting my story's progression!
     
  2. izanobu
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    izanobu Senior Member

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    Don't worry about whether or not you're keeping a reader interested until you have something for them to read :) Ie, finish it, then worry.

    While writing, if you're bored with the characters or story, that part might be boring to a reader. Skip the boring bits. But really, don't worry about it too much. If you let the doubts win during the writing stage, you'll never finish. Push through, you can do it! :)
     
  3. Sonata
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    Sonata Member

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    I'm trying to tell myself that. I think the problem is that the story and characters are so clear in my mind already. Normally they solidify whilest I'm writing - not before!

    I'm not bored with them as children. But I know the significance of a chewed lip of a flushed cheek, have I conveyed it's importance to my "reader" without losing subtlety? My mind won't let go!

    I have considered bringing only an extract of the part I am working on to the office with me and leaving the rest and my notes at home to discourage my obsessive mind!
     
  4. lukemcgrath
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    lukemcgrath New Member

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    The best thing you can do (for your novel and sanity) is to press on until you finish. Then leave the draft alone for a month and approach it as a reader.

    While you're still writing, follow your plan if you want to or deviate if it feels better. Just keep at it. Doubting yourself is totally normal, especially once you're midway into something - you're in the middle and you're trying to balance a beginning and an end.

    If that's weighing you down to much then just take the page before the one you're working on. You don't need to distract yourself by referring back to things too often. Things like that will be caught when you edit. For now, let it flow.

    Good luck,

    Luke
     
  5. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I once encountered a writer at a writing conference who has been working over and over again on the first three chapters of her novel--for over two years--to get it right before moving forward.

    She had two concerns: Trying to keep the reader interested and also that it had to be perfect because editors/agents would base further reading on it, and thus had to keep them interested.

    A year later, my last contact, she was still rewriting the first three chapters and hadn't moved forward.

    Advice given, to proceed forward and finish the first draft is good advice. It may be that you'll cut and condense the childhood back story before the main action, or move relevant parts to other parts of the story...but you'll never know what's important to the story and what will ultimately be of interest to the reader unless you're able to proceed toward completion of the project.

    Hang in there!

    Terry
     
  6. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    You still must have a gripping central storyline. Sit down now and complete the following sentence:
    'My novel is......................'

    You have to get the main theme down in that one sentence, e.g.
    'My novel is about:
    a group of children who promise to help out an injured escaped convict--a mad scientist--on condition he completes their science project because they want to win the Science Fair Award, but this collaboration breaks up friendships and teaches them several frightening life lessons, finally putting not only the kids but also their entire town in danger of annihilation.'

    The protagonists all need to be necessary for driving the plot forward, not just be there adding colour/'insight on life'. The characters must each have clear, interlocking goals, which they should work towards (even if this is unconscious), until the resolution at the end of the novel.

    It sounds like you have something interesting simmering, but remember, life is nothing like art. Interesting moments, anecdotes and humour alone do not make a strong novel. Your novel may be true-to-life, but that is not an intrinsic merit in itself. A novel is a kind of humanized work of artifice.

    This is just my personal opinion of course, but I speak as someone who has had a novel featuring three protagonists stuggling though life rejected by several agents. One day I will rewrite it, following the advice that I pass on to you above.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    all good advice!... see if you can force yourself to follow it...


    mad... what's that nifty plot from?... if of your own making and not taken from a published book or a movie, i'd say write the screenplay asap!!!

    hugs, m
     
  8. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    You should definitely keep writing and then go back and re-write/edit. It's difficult to give you advice on how to keep the reader interested since I don't really know what it's about. The way I do it is with little bread crumbs of interesting or mysterious information about characters. Other than that, I'm a little lost as well. Good luck.
     
  9. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    LOL it was born when my daughter and I were making fun of the stuff on Disney Channel the other day and decided to dream up a screenplay of our own. She hopes to start a Visual Communication Design degree in September, and I'm hoping to learn lots more about screenplay writing as a result, since that's one of the modules on the course!

    (kind of echoes of ET and Whistle Down the Wind with some Back to the Future thrown in...all our favourite movies)
     
  10. Lujan
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    Lujan Member

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    For me, character development is the point that needs to be focused on the most. If the character isn't someone I like or I can relate to, or even sympathize with then that ruins any story that might accompany it. The story also obviously plays a vital role as well, and molding the character with the premise is exactly what needs to be done. Also, try to not to be overly redundant. I'm currently reading Atonement, and while I like the premise, and somewhat the characters, the author likes to take his time with explaining and detailing the unnecessary.
     
  11. Sonata
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    Sonata Member

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    All of your advice is basically what I've been telling myself. I always have this problem but usually a strict word with myself solves it. lol

    I'm going to leave them alone for a week or two because I think I'm too wrapped up in it. We'll see how I go after that! :)

    edit: I have to disagree with the sentiment that life is nothing like art - the art, patterns and coincidences in life and the world inspire me every day. But maybe that's just the way I see the world ;)
     

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