Stop Explaining Your Novel: Readers Are Smart

Remember “show, don’t tell”?

Here’s something else to keep in mind when you’re writing your novel: don’t tell too much, and don’t explain too much.

I spend at least an hour or two a day on Amazon. I love books, and I love to read. I especially like to read the reviews.

“I get it already!” is something exasperated reviewers often tell writers.

Read this article, What I Learned from Movies and TV | Joseph Finder:

“Not only are today’s readers are more impatient than they used to be, but they’re also more used to figuring things out for themselves – and thriller readers, at least, want to. Part of the fun of reading a thriller is figuring out what’s going on – so it’s up to me to keep the action moving, and explain only the bare minimum as we go along. “

Readers aren’t reading your novel as much as they’re LIVING your novel. They’re in the action, living vicariously. When you explain, you drag them out of this life they’re living, which is your book.

So, stop it. No matter what genre you’re writing in, over-explaining is death.

So is going over old ground. Let’s say you’re writing a romance. The hero and heroine have problems. The more problems, generally speaking, the better. He’s a take-charge guy, she resents being managed by anyone other than herself.

You can show this conflict once or twice, but if you don’t move on, your readers will get annoyed. Your hero comes across as a jerk, and your heroine as a maniac. Your novel is not real life. In real life, people are who they are. Change is hard. In your novel, your characters need to change.

Stop explaining too much. Ensure that your characters fight for what they want, and grow.

You won’t achieve all this in your first draft, and maybe not even in your second, or third. But if you remember that your readers are smart, you’ll write a book they’ll love.

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Angela Booth is a top copywriter, multi-published author, and writing teacher. She offers many guides, courses and classes to help writers to enhance their skills on her Writing Genii website. She also provides inspiration and motivation for writers on her writing blogs. Angela has been writing successfully since the late 1970s, and was online in the 1980s, long before the birth of the Web. Her business books have been widely published.

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