We’re told we need a dynamite opening line which explodes into staccato sentences in order to creat boom! in readers’ psyches for them to keep reading our novel. And for the impatient reader I’m not surprised at this requirement.
If you’re writing a thriller or a crime novel or a mystery, these instructions make perfect sense. Not so much if you’re talking love stories or women’s fiction, literary novels or cozy mysteries and the like. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you can get away with droll words to open your stories, but I am suggesting you don’t have to incorporate the same pop as with thrillers. Or the same pace. Or the same kinds of technique to entice your readers.
We’re told readers no longer wish to read epics or sagas, that reading requires time, and time is taken up with too many other extraneous activities, the number one that I see being the use of smart phones. Constantly. Texting at sports’ games, at the post office, while driving, and every place else where hot spots prevail. Books can be read in spurts on phones, pads, tablets, e-readers, and PCs.
The impatient reader wants pop, snap and crackle too if fit into no more than 300 pages. This bodes well for formulaic writing and sharp, stylistic approaches. Not so much for thoughtful depth. Wait, wait before you get impatient with me. It can be done, but it isn’t always accomplished with the shorter novels.
Tight writing is encouraged – maybe demanded for today’s impatient reader. However, real readers enjoy the simple act of reading good stories and aren’t afraid of length, depth, and different looks at traditional storytelling. Nothing wrong with “tight” writing – of which the term “tight” can be debated. However, tight writing leaves little room for experimentation and meandering and all those characteristics that can appear in the epics and sagas which have a difficult time finding a home at Christian publishing houses with few exceptions.
The demands of the impatient reader have somewhat crippled those writers who love to write and read the larger tomes. Sometimes the presumed desires of a portion of the culture morph into a trend which isn’t necessarily shared by the majority but is force fed to them anyway. When “shorter” is a requirement, much story can be forfeited. And just because “shorter” is popular and trendy, it isn’t always better for the impatient reader. Or anyone else.
Nicole Petrino-Salter writes love stories with a passion.