Where’s the Beef: become the reader

Nancy Kress in Writers Digest, September, 2002, wrote an article on clarity. I will quote or paraphrase her statements, but, for more information, go to writers digest.com for the article.

“Readers don’t have access to the author’s mind. They see only what’s on the page. The essence of writing is to become the reader.”

Clarity is essential for readers to want to continue reading your novel or article. Visualize what you have actually written to notice holes in your storyline. Authors conceive a scene or chapter in their own minds vividly, but may not have filled in the gaps that the reader doesn’t have on the page. This virtue is not often applauded by the professional world of editors, reviewers and publishers, but, without it, characterization, a fascinating story,and a terrific narrative arc will go undiscovered. They will be lost.

The following is a common way we authors violate the clarity in our own minds:

Pronouns: use of them must have direct references. Who is he? Who is speaking now? Back up and make certain the reader understands who is speaking or walking toward someone. This failure of clarity is seen when more than one person is in a scene. When we use pronouns willy-nilly, it’s because we know who is involved. Be certain that the reader knows, too.

More on the topic of clarity in my next post.