You’re a writer of fiction. And like every smart fiction-creator, you make other writers critique your piece. And then, you face that issue that everyone else faces. That is: no one is completely ‘understanding’ what’s happening on the page. 

You think they are not reading. You think they are skimming. You think they are not ‘your’ genre readers maybe. You don’t want to see the real issue.

The real issue is: Human mind and the reader’s psychology towards something new.

Let me tell you, the best and most successful books are the accessible ones, which all genre and age category readers can read and enjoy. How do the authors do it? 

They make the early pages welcoming and understandable. 

The first experience into your world must not be clumsy or bumpy or hard or confusing.

Now ... Why they are bumping?

Sometimes, you’re not explaining enough of your MC’s or other characters’ actions. That is they are doing something and that’s all you’re saying.

Yes. You’re just saying: ‘Then she jumped off of the roof’ without telling us why.

Now, pay attention here: 

Maybe, you’ve mentioned and showed earlier with dialogues that someone has left her, or someone close to her died, or she lost her lawsuit, or her years of the company went bankrupt in Covid-19 … You may have explained the situation. But you didn’t tell me her thoughts. 

NOTE: Her Thoughts!

Now that’s very important. You have to write a line or two about feelings, thoughts, emotions, and gradually come to decisions or any simpler action like she decided to go to Place-A instead of Place-B where she was supposed to be. 

What you have to do is smoothen the decision with 2-3 more lines/words/ phrases that this is why she is doing it/ changing decision/ or whatever activity-verbs you’ve used.


The first reason is psychological:

Because with your dialogues or scenes, I, as a reader, am half-guessing or if you do a good job ‘showing’ then maybe I’m 80% guessing that maybe this is why the MC is doing it.

But making reader guess isn't enough, not even if it's 80%. 

What you have to do you is, just add the finishing line, just pull your half-convinced reader towards 'your' decision, make the reader ‘agree’ with you, make me convinced with your MC’s action, voice, and make things believable. Even if you can't show properly, say that ‘and thus feeling  this this and this the MC ends that that and that.’ In the end, you MUST add such conclusions ‘not like your school or thesis essays’ … I repeat: Not in a descriptive way. Rather, ‘showing’ it like you do in fiction.

A great example of this is in Night Circus. Initially, I was understanding what happening and why. But after 150 pages into that book, I saw a pattern. A pattern that I'm not understanding why this 4-page scene happened until I read that last 2 paragraphs of that chapter where the author with her great voice kinda 'tells' with 'emotions' why this chapter happened, why this scene was necessary. And, I, as a reader, was convinced! If I weren't in author-who-analyzes-everything mode, I wouldn't have even noticed it. And it's a device used in almost every great book. The device is adding the conclusion phrase/dialogue/line/para. Thanks to Night Circus, I learned that. I picked up different devices from different books. I'll try to mention them in my posts. Most great books has at least one device so well applied that it's enough to make all things work.

Anyway, the second reason is more psychological than the first one:

Readers can’t see your writings like they see films or painting. 

When we read, we have to ‘translate’ those writings into visual feedback. And the brain takes time to process that feedback. Now, if you say things super-fast in lightning speed that he smirked, then moved right, then kicked with the left hand, and jerked his neck and picked a shovel from a nearby hole in the mountain cave …

Wait… he was in a mountain? … And what do you mean ‘left’ and ‘right’. I have ADHD. And my husband needs to point me which way, even when he says ‘go left or right’ and you want me to visualize your MC’s left-right in a book? 

Even movies don’t do that sort of torture! 

The just make the actor turn his neck at somewhere, anywhere … and then the camera rolls, the video-editor shows a transition effect, and the sound editor adds the sounds effect, and then we see what the actor looked at.

So, don’t give a para full of 10 actions/active verbs without doing that ‘transition/ sound effect’. Just neck jerking and showing what your MC looked at or delivering the final image isn’t enough. You MUST give those middle images, the transitions, the pauses. The more the better. The more lines you give for a single moment, the more time I get to dive into the scene. 

Come on! Even movies have slow-motions. And you know well how much difference a slow-motion-effect with Vivaldi Winter in the background while John Wick keeps shooting, has on the audience!

You didn’t notice?

Well, from now on you will. Just add 1-2 phrases/ lines of thoughts or expositions of emotions ‘in-between’ your activity-lists. That’s how you give me the ‘time’ my brain needs to make a movie inside my head. Otherwise, it will only look like a blurry circle while it was actually my fan with three metal blades running in the hot summer.

If this post helps you, please share it. It inspires me to write more such posts.

***A few other writing bloggers liked this article and posted it with my name as the guest author. If you find me there, support them, too. We all are trying to make the craft more available for the authors who are desperately looking for the right materials, despite the fact that life and living push them hard at the walls most times. If you can relate, please know, you're doing a great job! Hats off to anyone who stays in the creative lines of work, and hats off to their near ones who support them.

#First 10 Page mistakes all authors do
#Make the opening pages right
#What's wrong in the first few pages?
#How to make the first pages engaging?
#How to write the irresistible opening of a fiction?
#Fiction writing.
#Writing the first chapter


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