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December, 2013


In this issue... Revealing Action in Fiction

Revealing Action in Fiction

by Bruce L. Cook
Publisher, The Author-me.com Group

Typically in fiction, you have a plan of action. As the story unfolds, you parcel out details which, by the end,
point to the story’s conclusion.... (Continued below...)










Revealing... (continued)

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There’s a question of how much detail you should hold back. If you reveal too little, the reader may become bored or confused and stop reading your story. Alternatively, if you reveal too much, the reader may feel the outcome is too predictable.

I experienced this problem recently in a novel whose action was fairly complex. I automatically held back on details which would explain the protagonist’s motives, thinking that the reader would learn them soon enough as the story progressed. In my mind, the reader would be teased by omissions and keep reading to learn why the protagonist is acting in a particular way.

However, I learned from a reader that my omission was confusing and that it resulted in a loss of interest in the story. So, naturally, I revised the novel to make motives more clear.

This made me examine my own reasons for omitting details. I suspect that this question might be worth consideration by other authors as well. Are authors free to choose the level of detail?

In my case, the question was whether I was saving time by just getting the story out quickly without so much explanation. Alternatively was I in fact teasing the reader to keep interest high? Unfortunately, a fiction writer is unlikely to consider such a technical question as the story unfolds, so the answer won’t be clear. In my case I decided to opt for clarity, although this and that left me wondering whether I had made the omission just to save myself time in writing the story.

During revision, it’s a good time to ask a reader about any such omissions and determine whether they result in confusion or loss of interest. Be honest about your own motives as a writer and do your best to help the reader follow your action.

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Publishing New Writers,

December, 2014 (no. 1412)


Dr. Bruce L. Cook
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Elgin, IL 60123

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