In case you’re wondering, I do actually read other blog posts, often. As a matter of fact, for the second week I’m going to send you off to see the full article here (Mythic Scribes, Understanding How Readers Read by Nils Ödlund) before we begin.
I love Mythic Scribes, they have a great collection of posts, and this one by Nils discussed why he only lends half an ear to writing rules as a newbie writer, and then an ear and a half to his readers.
He makes a clear distinction on writing rules:
“The rules of writing tell me how I should write, but they don’t really tell me why. That’s something I have to figure out on my own.”
And what he can learn from readers:
“I think – and this is just a hunch – that understanding how readers read can take my writing a lot further than any rules for how I ought to write. When I understand how words and sentences turns into images and emotions and stories I can take that into account and I believe my writing will be better for it.”
I like my writing rules as much as the next writer, but it’s impressive that Nils nailed this particular point early on in his writing.
Writers are generally avid readers, which may explain our instinctive ability to grasp what makes a story, well, a story. Since this is my blog and I haven’t conducted any scientific polls on this, I can only offer my personal opinion here. It may not fit all, but I’m willing to bet most writers will get it.
Because I devour books faster than chocolate (quite a feat!), I know what keeps my attention riveted on turning the next page until the wee hours of the morning. When I write, I try to recreate that same level of
sorcery fascination in my stories. I have been (lovingly) accused by my writering partners of not giving my readers or my characters a chance to catch their breath. My characters tend to run from one big “oh shit!” moment to the next, barely taking the time to bend over, hands on hips and choked a few lungfuls of air down, before dashing over to the next catastrophe.
While this hits the writing rule of making sure every chapter, every scene moves your story forward, it also keeps my readers, reading. Because my readers love fast paced, action packed, tension mounting stories, where there’s no time to second guess
your the characters’ actions before you they are faced with the next situation.
Knowing what our readers enjoy, it helps us craft our stories. When I read, I want to be able to put my face on the main character, feel my pulse race with the MC’s, my heart break with the MC’s, and I want to triumph with the MC.
As a writer, to share this magic with my readers brings me joy and helps me sit down for another round with the keyboard.