I’m really starting to like this guy.
A newly discovered bit of thoughtfulness over at http://terribleminds.com has unleashed not so much as a checklist but a great list of things to consider. As a writer, you like to read, don’t you? Sometimes we forget what it’s like to consume instead of create, and the following is a nice reminder.
A few highlights:
A good story should always be raising questions — not asking them directly, but instead forcing the reader to ask them. “Wait, what’s that weird symbol they keep seeing on the walls? What was that sound? Something’s up with that top hat-wearing fox that keeps following them, too. Where the crap are they going?” This is why too much exposition is a story-squasher: exposition provides answers and answers rob the reader. Answers must come, yes, but only at the right time — and, if the answers come before the end, it helps to raise further questions to replace those we lost. It’s a cruel game the storyteller players, like teasing a kitty-cat with a laser pointer. “Go here! Now here! Now back over here! Ha ha ha ha stupid cat you’re so adorable the way you chase an insubstantial red dot on the floor like it means something. Silly jerk.”
A great antagonist — a true villain, a genuine malefactor — is “conflict” but given a face and a name. If you need proof that a great antagonist will keep people reading, I need only mention: Hannibal Lecter.
Aww. Poor widdle kitty cat dangling from the twee bwanch! Will he fall? Will he manifest the magical gyroscope cats reportedly possess and land on his feet? Will a hawk swoop in and carry him up into the clouds? Tune in next week to find out! Behold, the power of the cliffhanger: one of the great motivations for a reader to tell his loved ones, “Yes, yes, just five more pages. I need to see what happens! No, I know, I know, it’s Grandpa’s funeral, but Jiminy Christmas it’s not like he’s got anywhere to be. LET ME KEEP READING OR IMMA BLUDGEON YOU WITH THIS BOOK.”