Stoking Your Story’s Fire: Three Considerations for Revising Scene by Scene – By David G. Brown…

on Writers Helping Writers:

The Two Pillars of Storytelling

After my first couple years as a fiction editor, I realized that all of my developmental feedback for clients fit into one of two categories. The first is immersion: the quality of a narrative that transports readers to another time and place. The second is emotional draw: that which maintains readers’ interest in a character and thus keeps them turning pages.

Immersion is achieved with scene-based writing, which means a focus on the protagonist’s moment-to-moment experience of setting and conflict. A reader’s sense of immediacy grows out of sensory details, movement, action, and dialogue.

Emotional draw is more complicated. Readers are diverse, and each one brings a slightly different reason for turning the page. But the main components are:

  • Trajectory—the momentum of a character struggling toward a goal
  • Anticipation—a desire to know what happens next
  • Stakes—a looming consequence should the character fail

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