You’ve all read a story or heard a story that just bores you to tears, right?
You don’t want to write that story UNLESS boring people is your goal. That’s a fine goal! You get to have that if you want it. Don’t let anyone take your goal away from you.
But if that’s not your goal? Let’s talk.
To not bore your reader, at the most basic level, you have to do three things. And these three things are the basic elements. Bare bones here, okay?
- Keeping your damn word.
Just like in a relationship, when you write a book for someone or tell them a story, you set up an expectation in them that there is going to be a payoff there.
There is always an expectation the reader will have.
Will they catch the murderer?
Will James get out of the giant peach? Will the rich family get out of the town?
Will Lassie save whoever Lassie needs to save?
Your book is full of these promises and questions that you the author set out for the reader and that you have to answer. If you don’t? You’re a promise breaker! And you’ve ruined your relationship with your reader.
- Making your damn character interesting (This has to do with plot too, actually.).
Your character has a journey. They make choices. The bigger the story and the scarier? The bigger the choices. The character in a thrilling story has to be the hero, the brave one, the choice-maker. Those choices lead you to a thrilling and amazing finale.
- Making time matter
If you have your whole life to hunt down the monster that’s killing everyone in town, there’s not as much tension there.
If the bomb is going to explode in 10,000 years? Same thing. But the pressure of a villain who is killing people, the pressure of the bomb about to explode, the pressure of a destiny that might not happen if you don’t hurry up?
That’s a big deal. It’s a trope. Who cares? Use it.
There’s some other things that make a good thriller, too.
- There needs to be high stakes. Time limits. Multiple problems increases those stakes.
- There needs to be an actual threat to the characters or society.
- There needs to be some things that you don’t expect to happen, happen.
- The characters need to be multiple dimensions, not flat little cardboard figures or game pieces. But interesting.
- There needs to be some cool action going on. That might be mind games. Mind games count. Car chases do too.
- Cool locations. Your reader wants to explore the world from the safety of their bed/couch/porch/subway seat. Your book lets them do that. Use details. Make those locations real.
Writing Tip of the Pod
Think about your damn audience not just yourself.
Dog Tip for Life
Make your own excitement like Gabby. Every moment can be thrilling.
The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License.
Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song? It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.
AND we have a writing tips podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW!
We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and YouTube on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook. But she also has extra cool content focused on writing tips here.
Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!