Make it Fun to Read

27 Mar

A fun read isn’t just laughs. It’s conflict between not being able to put the book down and not wanting it to end.

  1. Simple—Keep ‘em busy, keep ‘em moving, and keep ‘em guessing. Remember your reader is relying on you to pick out the important points, and leave out the boring parts. As usual, it all begins with character. What’s in your character’s emotional closet? Like any good closet, it should have a good combination of color, texture, and something for every season. Everything from warm wool coats to skimpy undies. Jeans to party dresses. Worn tennies to sparkly platforms. Granny’s lace hanky to a yoga mat. Is it neat with everything in a labeled container, or is everything tossed in, hiding last year’s favorite sweater? And down in the back behind the box labeled red party heels in the deepest darkest corner is a box that when opened, will cause all kinds of problems.

When you open the door to give the reader a peek inside, be sure they get only a glimpse (If you’re writing a series) or a little longer look, or even leave the door ajar if you’re writing a stand-alone. In the beginning, if that peek can be interpreted in at least two ways, all the better. Was that a real mink coat? Or a fake? Was it a bear? The more questions the glimpse raises, the better. It will tug your reader along to find the answer.

  1. Setting—Where in the world are these people? Your setting doesn’t have to be exotic, but it does have to be interesting and important. Making the setting a character in the story is important. That means your reader can’t imagine the story taking place anywhere else.
  2. Action—It goes without saying that something interesting must be happening. That doesn’t mean you have to keep them out of dinners, or out of cars, but if you put them there, you’d better have something happening on more than two levels. Eating or driving, conversation, and something else.

I remember a story (I don’t remember who told it) of a writer who was on a ride-a-long with her local police. She was excited to get all the exciting real cop info she could soak up. It wasn’t long before they were called to a crime scene. He flipped on the lights and siren, then pushed the gas pedal to the floor. As they screamed down the winding road, the writer hanging on for dear life, adrenalin bubbling from every pore what was the topic of conversation? Not the high-speed trip, one the cop had been here on a hundred times. No, it was the birth of his new baby. He went in to detail of the birth of his new tax deduction as he sped down the street to a crime scene. A twist on the usual.

  1. Dialogue—Load the dialogue with hints and levels of information. There’s what’s being said, what’s meant, what is being felt, what’s being seen, and what’s revealed about the plot and the characters. It’s a lot to work in, but it will keep things moving along and interesting if you weave them all into conversation. I’m not advocating head-hopping. The fewer POV’s you use, the more you can hide from or misdirect the reader. You want the reader to misinterpret something along with the character.
  2. Characters—Don’t underestimate the power of secondary characters. Interesting SC’s can add life, interest, and drama to a story. Think of your favorite books. Chances are there was a great SC lurking to up the action, deepen the emotion, or lighten the mood.

Adding layers and depth to your writing takes some planning and care. In the end, you’ll end up with a fun read.



18 responses to “Make it Fun to Read

  1. Janis McCurry

    March 27, 2012 at 7:33 AM

    Good points. Thanks.

  2. Liz Fredericks

    March 27, 2012 at 9:48 AM

    Speaking of fun read . . . your blogs are always so useful to me. I really struggle with pacing (being naturally inclined to the pedantic) so your advice is always spot on. Thank you!

    • Peggy Staggs

      March 27, 2012 at 10:00 AM

      You’re welcome. I always have to remind myself to slow down. It’s a struggle.

  3. Meredith Allen Conner

    March 27, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    great blog peggy. Love the analogy between what’s hanging in the closet and plot twists and character detail!

    • Peggy Staggs

      March 27, 2012 at 3:49 PM

      I love closets. They held scary monsters when I was a kid, all the latest fads when I was a teen and now my obsession. If I could just get my husband to vacate his half I’d be a lot less crowded.

  4. Misty Dietz

    March 27, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    Great blog! I especially appreciate the reminder to make the setting a character in its own right. 🙂

    • Peggy Staggs

      March 27, 2012 at 3:52 PM

      Setting is an element we sometimes don’t take advantage of. It can really give a scene a lot of flavor.

  5. Lynn Mapp

    March 27, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    Peggy, great post. You now I loved the “keepems.” A timely reminder.

  6. ramblingsfromtheleft

    March 28, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    Sorry, I was off somewhere … maybe in that high speed car chase … and missed this yesterday. Loved your examples and always enjoy your take on our craft. Thanks Peggy, this was a fun read 🙂

  7. Peggy Staggs

    March 28, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    Thanks. I love to hear those words, “this was a fun read.”

  8. marsharwest

    March 28, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    Great post, Peggy. Think I need to make a copy of the line: “pick out the important parts, and leave out the boring ones.” I write long and ususally end up cutting a lot of those “boring” parts, which really weren’t boring to me, but the CPs kindly point them out with questions like: “Do we need to know this?” “Is this moving the story along?” 🙂 Thank heavens for good CPs and for insightful posts like this one.

  9. Peggy Staggs

    March 28, 2012 at 5:26 PM

    Marsha, I love my CP’s they are worth their weight in gold. I know what you mean about writing long. I too, have a tendency not to leave anything out. It’s a good way to write, in my humble opinion, that way when you go back to cut you can cut and tighten in a way that leaves in hints that tantalizes the reader.

  10. maryvine

    March 30, 2012 at 11:52 AM

    I liked the illustration about the cop and then the new tax deduction. Thanks, Peggy!

  11. Peggy Staggs

    March 30, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    You’re welcome. I’m glad you found something of usee.

  12. Clarissa Southwick

    April 5, 2012 at 7:33 AM

    Great blog, as usual, Peggy. I know I’ll have that image of a closet door in my head for a long time 🙂 Thanks!

    • Peggy Staggs

      April 5, 2012 at 11:30 AM

      You’re welcome. I’m glad you enjoyed it.


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