Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Better Fiction Writing Using Dating Principles

PictureGuest blogging by Chris Wesley

It's an unspoken fact that to keep a reader, you should seduce said reader. That is, you want them to hunger for more and be inpatient about what’s to come next.

To do this, there are some principles we can draw from the world of dating that we can use to that end.

For example, the pickup line.

When used correctly, the pickup line doesn’t just catch a person’s interest, it promises of what’s to come from you. Will you make them laugh? Dazzle them with clever witticisms? That first encounter will either lead you into the conversation you’re hoping to have with that person or to a quick rejection.

This applies to your fiction as well. The way you open your book tells your reader something about you and whether you’re going to be able to hold their interest.

That’s why I applied the theory of the pickup line to the opening sentence in my book, The Gospel of Wolves, Episode One.

The book opens with, “The first dream I ever watched die looked to have a long future ahead of it.”

One sentence in, you can decide if you want to keep reading or not. If you care about dreams and how or why a dream that appeared to be thriving could meet an unexpected end, then you now have my promise that I’m going to tell you and I’m not going to waste your time in the telling.

So let’s assume that you’ve written an awesome pickup line and your reader can’t wait to find out what comes next, well now you’re in the same place you’d be if it was time to pick the location for your first date.

True, you could get all fancy and try that new place that’s all the rage, but we both know that isn’t wise. The smart money is on a location where you know what to expect and how things operate.

The same goes for your book. Not only should you write about topics that you’re intimately familiar with, but you should choose locations that you you’re very familiar with even if that familiarity was bred through research.

By choosing a place that you know well, you bypass worry over keeping language and behaviors consistent.

Lastly, there is the one thing that your reader should have had from you from the start—authenticity.

There is nothing more enticing than when you are brave enough to simply be who you are. As a person. As a writer.

This way, once you’ve hooked a reader, you don’t have to wonder how to keep them. All you have to do is continue being you and they will naturally keep anticipating what they can expect from you next.

In its purest form, that’s what dating involves and the relationship between author and reader doesn’t stray too far from this. The seduction begins with the first words uttered, but what comes next is equally important.

Chris Wesley is the award-winning author of the fiction book The Gospel of Wolves, the short fiction story Regret in Triptych and the poetry book Pack Animals. He uses his fine art photography as prompts for character sketches and settings in his fiction along with gallery shows. He has written for the music magazine Night Moves Magazine, acted in independent movies and plays; wrote, cast, directed, shot and edited an independent short movie, started bands and gone solo. He plays a few instruments and is generally considered a smart ass. He also has a thing for how we connect with each other and with ourselves.

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