Consider the Reader

Remember the story of Scheherazade? She had to entertain the Sultan every Scheherazadenight with a new story or – she would lose her head, literally.

How about Scheherazade for a mentor for our writing life? We have to entertain our readers. We have to consider the reader above everything. Never mind our political ideas. Forget about those delightful turns of phrase we’ve thought up. Never mind that we know everything there is to know about a 62 Chevy Impala and we want to drop this information into the book. Never mind that we have a masters from Harvard and we want to be sure the reader knows that.

No. Consider the reader. The reader comes first.  Tell the story. The old saying is: Murder your darlings

I love the word ‘Whirligig.’ I’ll try to slip it into every story I tell. And from my time in a commercial greenhouse, I know a lot about petunias, for example how to spray them with a growth retardant so they don’t look leggy on display. Should I put this into my story? No, unless it:

  • 1. advances the plot
  • 2. develops characterization
  • 3. supplies needed information
  • 4. sets the mood

In fact, NOTHING belongs in your story unless it does one of those four things.

Keep the reader entertained or, like Scheherazade, you might lose your head.

Losing Your Head



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