Sunday, July 11, 2010

Trust Your Reader

I have been reading a lot of new fiction lately (like 10 books in the last week).

And what has struck me most is how little newer writers trust their reader.

I had forgotten how much this single factor affects readability.

As writers we ask every reader to suspend disbelief. They need to let go of their preconceptions and the 'rules' of their reality and enter ours.

However, it is our job as writers to honor their surrender and help them sustain it.

The less you trust that reader to follow along, the more frequently you state the obvious, or repeat key phrases, the hard it is for them to stay in this holy pocket of 'suspended disbelief.'

She drove up in a Caddie with a rock on her finger. She's rich. We get it. You really don't have to go into her Sax 5th Ave shoes. Or her Vera Wang dress. We GOT it.

Now I'm not saying you can't sprinkle those items later. Or if you are writing a character who is fascinated by fashion and those descriptions help define your character that you couldn't go into a whole laundry list.

I am just saying, do it with PURPOSE. Don't just keep going on and on because you, as the writer, are uncertain if you got your point across.

Remember the reader WANTS to go along on this journey with you. And the VAST majority of your readers have... oh I don't know... read a book before.

You can slip into a sort of fiction 'short-hand.' Trust the reader is getting what you are putting out. Make sure every bit of description has a point and a purpose. Cut out anything that seems to belabor an idea or is 'over-written.'

Less truly is more.

The more you trust the reader. The less you have to write! Simple #buttrue!

Your assignment? Randomly pick 3 pages from each act. Read them aloud to someone unfamiliar with your story. Ask them when they got 'it' (the central idea of the scene) and when did you keep writing past that point.

Then, you know what to do next. Rewrite if needed! #duh

Now I am sure by now you know I've got a book out #unlessyouhavebeenlivinginacave :-)

I am getting a ton of great reviews and I would love to hear your opinion if I 'practice what I preach' :-)

Read up to 50 pages of Plain Jane for free here: and here is a 50% off coupon code if you decide to read the entire thriller: RH88E

Any review posted on Smashwords or GoodReads will be featured on this stream and my pen name's @cristynwest. And if it is totally kick-a** I will promo it on my personal account @craftycmc

Thanks again!


  1. This was the best post. I tried this today and received the best feedback ever. My rewrite is pretty simple and I know where I am lacking.

  2. One of those, "why didn't I think of that" moments!What great advice. I am so on this and can't wait to see where it leads -- surely to an improved ms. Thanks!

  3. Great post! You're so right about newbies. I can only hope that my years of struggling in the unpublished world have rid me of some of those habits by the time I make it to the published world.

    Nice to "meet" you, BTW.

    - Liz