Structure in Chaos: What to describe when?

By on January 15, 2018

There is a strong need within every writer to explain his or her story perfectly. Be it a story of fantasy and magic or a romance novel or even a mystery, creating curiosity in potential readers and portraying characters exactly as envisioned by the author forms the basis of a great book.

Don't let yourself get caught up in the restraints of popularly accepted beliefs. Your book can be as long or as short as you need it to be in order to convey your message. Dwelling on details that don't directly impact the story-line or having filler chapters that may not change the result of the book can make the readers bored.

Instead, spend time detailing the main characters, their personalities and their motivations. Readers tend to put themselves in the characters they see in your books. The best way to captivate your audience is to give them more of what they like.

If you are writing a mystery, you can spend time on aspects of your story that can mislead your readers which would make them that much more impressed when you reveal crucial details. Murder mysteries and detective stories are always fascinating, will the good guy find out who the killer is till the last chapter? Who are the main suspects and why are they likely to be the actual killer?

As long as you have a great story to tell, you can make it as intricate as you can as long as the prose is racy and interesting. Describing how your characters feel, explaining their points of view and how they make their decisions in your books is guaranteed to keep your readers enthralled. The best explanations are often the simplest and most logical ones. If a husband finds his wife murdered, he will be enraged and sad. This gives the writer an opportunity to explain how much the character loved his wife and how devastated he was to see her dead. Choosing the time to explain a character's personality is therefore paramount. A reader is most likely to empathize with your character when he or she can understand the gravity of your character's plight. Relating back to the husband seeing his wife dead, a reader is more likely to understand how much the husband loved his wife when you explain it after he sees his wife murdered. Explaining it then makes a bigger impact than before and the reader will pay more attention to the details you write.

You may not have all of the details of your story figured out before you begin to write. Often times, I find that my story comes to life only after I put pen on paper and not before and that is just fine. As such, you can rewrite parts of your book to make more sense once you find the crux of your plot. The joy of discovering your story can be amazing and it will only get more exciting as you add to it. If anything, the more you write, the better your story gets and this could eventually lead to a sequel before you even finish and at the end, the chaos that was your story when you began will have eventually given itself the structure you hoped for.

To summarize:

  • If your character is walking through a door, it is more important to explain why he or she has to walk through it, rather than explain the door itself in detail.
  • Deciding when to explain your character's personality is paramount to a good story. A reader will empathize with your character when they feel the need for it.
  • You do not have to add more words just to meet a word count if the addition has no impact on the storyline. Only add what you feel is necessary to make your book more interesting.
  • You do not need to have the complete story in your mind when you begin. Instead, let the story lead you to opportunities. Let your story dictate its own ebb and flow.
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