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!