No One Wants to Read Your Writing

It’s very easy to get bogged down in the minutiae of writing but there’s an often overlooked fact that writers tend to forget.

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Now, I don’t mean your book. I mean the words. Stories are a conduit for plot, told by characters, in the words of the writer. That’s the simple order of importance in a book or story.

If your plot doesn’t work, your characters lose meaning and your prose becomes self-indulgent. People want plot: it’s the job of your prose not to get in the way.

The biggest diversion from plot is description. We writers fall in love with our worlds but it’s the plot that takes people there. A plot should swallow the reader and make them forget their even holding a book. So, to go on a tangent about the colour of the trees is meaningless unless those trees are a focus of the plot. The reader knows what trees are, they don’t need to be reminded. Give them the freedom to imagine their own trees and get on with telling your story.

We may think we enjoy a writer’s style but remember two things: firstly, we are writers; secondly, what we really like is an individual’s eyes for a story. We’re weirdos who enjoy learning the tools of writing and how we can use them but it’s ultimately for the sake of a good tale.

Sentence structure can convey tone but that’s a tool for the plot. Characters drive the plot and they are the engine of the story, but a plot is the car, the fuel and even the road. We experience character through plot, otherwise we’d just be hanging out with a cast of people doing nothing and revealing nothing.

Without a plot, you have a study or an inflated and dishonest word count. Your words are not original but your story, your angle, your ideas are unique.

So shut up, and tell me your story.

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Connor Sansby is a Margate-based writer, editor, poet and publisher through his super-indie Whisky & Beards publishing label.

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