June 18, 2012

Your Story: How Does Your Reader See It?


I was breezing down the aisle in the grocery store one day and saw a gentleman staring at the shelves with a confused look on his face. His stooped posture forced him to bend in a strange sideways manner in order to look at the top shelf. He ran a hand through his flyaway white hair and scratched his wrinkled cheek, knocking his coke bottle glasses askew. I stopped and asked, “Can I help you find something?”

“Oh that would be great.” He breathed a sigh of relief. “I’m looking for the Special K.”

I smiled confidently and spun toward the shelves. They yawned in both directions; so long they actually appeared to grow smaller toward each end of the aisle. My smile faded. There were four rows, stocked to capacity with several hundred choices. Were they in any sort of order? I’d never considered that before. I blinked up at the top row that even I’d have to extend myself to reach and I was at least half a foot taller than the stooped old man. I’d never seen the cereal aisle like that before.

Remember to take the time to see your story from the viewpoint of your reader. It might look completely different from their vantage point.

6 comments:

  1. Wonderful advice. I have to stop and think about this as I write as well. And boy does it make a difference!

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    1. Nothing like a reader saying, "Wait, in that scene the girl hit return on the keyboard. What's 'return'?" to remind you that we don't ALL have the same experiences.

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  2. Such a great point. When I critique, I usually state my points on a first read-through because this is how a reader will read it too. If I'm confused, the reader will be too. Much harder to see in your own writing when you're familiar with the characters, the plot, and where things end up.

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    1. I try to do the same thing, Barbara. The author knows the character's motivation, but did they remember to elude to it in the text?

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  3. So true! As a writer, reading your material over and over tends to wear a rut, but when you can step away from your characters and see them from a different point of view, it makes a big difference. ^^ :)

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    1. "wear a rut" I love that! Great analogy, Amanda.

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