Writer to Reader to Character

Further thoughts about leading a reader into a character’s head: of all the senses a writer evokes, visualization might be the most powerful. When a reader’s able to formulate mental images of a character and her world, he begins to build his own fictional world. All the tools you use, such as setting, place, tone, language and detail are key, but not any old language or all detail. Use language that’s active and strong. Use detail that’s pertinent to the story. It’s important not to over describe but to let the reader use his imagination. The more a reader can imagine a character’s world, the more deeply he becomes vested in what happens to that character.

So give the reader what the character sees, that is, filter what the reader sees, thinks and feels through a character’s point of view. Human beings are curious and social; they want to know what’s going on with others. The same with a character. If you can arouse a reader’s curiosity at the start of your story, the reader will want to follow your character or characters.

But what raises curiosity? When characters express trouble, difficulty, conflict, worry or fear, readers want to know what’s going on. It’s the same as when you’re walking down the street and witness people fighting or hear shouting or an accident occurs; you don’t stop for the mundane, you stop for trouble. So start with something urgent and active. The reader’s interest won’t last long unless something urgent occurs, unless a character urgently desires something, needs something, fears, worries or dreads something. All of which should lead to conflict, which leads to tension, which leads to drama.

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