I’ll admit it, I’m easy to spook. I get sucked into scary stories. I let my imagination run wild with interpretations of mysterious sounds in the middle of the night. And don’t get me started on that creepy shadow, barely glanced from the corner of my eye.

BOO! I’ll jump, squeal and then laugh —except when I’m simply too scared to laugh. Being easy to scare is a both an occupational hazard and a positive characteristic for a writer. But that doesn’t mean I can’t see the strings being pulled. A really well written story will move me — to tears, laughter, to check under the bed — but all the while I’ll be looking for the WRITER behind the curtain (the wizard) creating the story.

Seeing the structure does not undermine my pleasure. Seeing big, annoying, easy-to-fix flaws in the structure does. I wish I could say that I have a formula — read 20% and if a book is not doing it for me I quit and move on — or something similar. But my decisions to read on to the end or stop in the middle of chapter 3 are entirely improvised.

One thing that often causes me to flip to the next book on the Kindle is pounds and pounds of exposition. Showing, instead of telling, is one of the toughest things about good fiction. Pages and pages of character back story, geographic & historical details and long descriptive passages about the internal life of characters, weighs the story down.

Exposition is necessary — but a little goes a long way. So I’m trying to put my writing on a exposition diet. This is hard! It’s actually scary — Boo!


  1. I’d tried trying an adult paranormal romance but never sensed I was doing any justice to it. Someone suggested I write for a younger audience. I did, and wound up with a sweet YA Paranormal/Time Travel/First Kiss romance as my debut novel. Of course I have some characters in the story getting scare from a ghost being in the presence of the ghost in my story. As I wrote it, I wrote it as most authors do, I made sure I placed “hooks” in the story to get my reader to want to read more. And in doing so I found I didn’t have to be scary in order to accomplish this goal.
    Remember it’s the ghost who chooses the person who will be allowed to see it.

    • Candy

      It sounds like you made some good, conscious decisions about how you told your story and that’s important. It’s a main ingredient in a professional storyteller’s method. Understanding those HOOKS is key!

  2. -sigh- I stopped counting the number of times I revised the Vokh story, but I do know it took me 8 years, off and on, to revise my writing style from expounding to showing. I had to unlearn all the things that had become second nature to me as a technical writer. Expounding is so easy because the English language gives a writer so many lovely words with which to /describe/ things – ‘He was sad/heartbroken/nostalgic….’ etc. Lovely words, and we all know what they mean, but they are all /shortcuts/, and in fiction shortcuts are bad, bad, bad.

    • Candy

      Believe me I feel your pain!
      I look back on stories I’ve written and see the excess pages of NOW, but then…. they were invisible and inevitable. Live and learn and edit as you go along.

      Read the first few pages of your masterpiece. Itching to get back to it, but I have a few things I must read before it. Fun to dip in and get an idea of the style. VIVID is the word I’d use.