As I started thinking about story arcs, I ran across this set of guidelines. It was put together by someone who does a lot of reviewing, and as a reviewer myself, i can clearly imagine the kind of book that spurred him to compose it. It appeared as part of a longer article, which you might find at: www.writermarkstevens.com, but even without the rest of the article, his point is clear: “Think about your reader, not yourself. The important question is not what you want to write, but what your reader wants to read.” You don’t have to follow these rules – unless, of course, you hope to sell your book!
Hope I can keep them firmly in mind for the next thirty days.
• Keep it simple.
• Give me one character with a strong point of view.
• Show me that character’s attitude about one thing.
• Don’t give me blah.
• Or ordinary.
• Give me edge; risk.
• Convince me that the story starts on this day.
• Rivet me with a colorful detail. Or two.
• Decide why I want to spend a few hundred pages with your main character and give me one reason to engage in the first few pages.
• Help me see, taste, smell, touch. Make it sensory.
• Avoid using dialogue that is only designed to fill readers in on the background lives of the characters. (Just don’t!) This is dialogue as “info dump.” It’s deadly.
• But, mostly, keep it simple.
• Really simple.
• No, really.