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Don’t Play Coy

Ilima Todd

Have you ever seen those ads on social media that pop up every once in a while…“This man tried to hug a lion, you won’t believe what happens next!” Total click-bait, right?

Don’t do that in your writing. It’s bad form. You shouldn’t have to trick your reader into turning the page, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hook them. A hook isn’t about holding back information to get the reader to keep reading, because that gets frustrating really fast. It’s about revealing information at the right time. I personally believe if your POV character knows something, the reader should too…or at least he better know it pretty dang soon.

We're going to ignore the fact that my first book had a ten-page prologue with terribly passive writing. Whoo-boy have I come a long way. ;) The biggest problem with my story was that I was being too coy with the reader. I deliberately held information back in an attempt to be suspenseful when really it was just plain annoying.

Photo: Facebook/Hejt za klikbejt

Tell the reader what they need to know. It will help them trust you and not feel cheated out of valuable information. I think it's common for beginning writers to think being secretive builds suspense, but readers don't want to be tricked.

I say tell the reader everything, cut open those characters for the world to see, and be honest about what's going on. It's okay to reveal things at the proper times, just don't hold everything back until this grandiose moment in the end when everything is revealed and you pat yourself on the shoulder congratulating your own cleverness.

Instead let the reader look back on the story and realize yes, this is exactly what should have happened because it was in front of me the whole time. It’s so much better to show all your cards up front, then the twists and turns that happen will have more impact.

Surprising but inevitable. Not coy.







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