Writing Secrets: Tips for making reading an immersive experience

 In Jo-Anne Richard's blog, Tips for Writers

A character is running through a crowd. She elbows passers-by, bumps into someone, shoves aside a group…

Okay, we know what she’s doing, but we’re not there with her. Not unless we see (and possibly hear, feel or smell) who she’s bumping, elbowing and shoving.

It always makes your writing better to pay attention to the distinguishing details. The point is, she’s running. She’s not going to notice someone’s hair, eye-colour and the fine stitching on her coat. She probably won’t notice her boots either, or the fact that her hair has been elaborately coiled to one side of her head.

But think about this in real life. You’re running between people. Certain details will jump out at you. They’ll make an impression. So instead of:

He elbowed a phone from someone’s hand. It shattered on the concrete behind him and a voice cursed in anger.

Write something like:

He elbowed past a woman hogging the pavement, a cell phone pinioned to her ear with sharp, red talons. The phone shot from her hand as his shoulder collided with hers. He heard it shatter on the concrete behind him, along with a surprisingly deep, “Fuck you, moron.”

Suddenly, everything is different. We’re there with him. We’re not simply having information transferred to us. We can visualise the situation and live through it with him. That makes all the difference to the experience – and to the writing.

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