Thursday, April 10, 2014


So often we forget that every scene must be interesting. We get caught up in forward motion, breathtaking descriptions and setting.

Whom among of us hasn't heard: "Don't forget to include the 5 Ws.”


Because forgetting kills interesting.

Read your scene again.

George Clooney lookalike walks through an Italy village on a beautiful summer's day in rush to… well, we're not sure, but after all, it is George Clooney. Hey, he just glanced at his image in the shop window. He nods. Ah, looks like he mumbles something. Good stuff, eh? 


But look at how lovely the village is. Look at the way I use perfect prose to describe the cobblestone streets, the quaint buildings, the pretty shops!

Sorry, I gotta go--

Wait! The scene gets better. Stick with me and I promise it will. 

If you have to ask that of your reader, sadly, it's already too late. Mr. Reader has put the book aside. 

Following the rules of fiction is one thing. Having all your tees crossed is one thing. But take a close look at the scene. Is it interesting? Does the reader have anything to question, wonder about, get hooked on? Where’s the conflict? Where’s the story question? Where’s the guarantee that if he follows George to the next street, he’ll be entertained?

Bravo if you write beautiful proses, can master the technics of style, and can make the setting jump off the page. If your story isn’t interesting, your reader’s attention wavers, and poof … he’s gone.

As a writer, you owe it to yourself not to let that happen.

Make it interesting!



Christine Rains said...

Great post and so very true! Sometimes I come across scenes in books that are dry and feel purposeless.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

If you have to entice readers to stay until it gets interesting, you've blown it.

Frankie Miller said...

Sometimes I realize that I'm not interested in what I've written - then I know it's the i'time to do some deleting!
There's plenty of deleting going on at the moment!

Suzanne Furness said...

Good point, lets banish some of those needless sentences to keep it interesting. When writing for children I think this is especially important as they tend to have shorter attention spans.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Readers should find our books interesting from the first word, else they will pick another book :(

Dean K Miller said...

Hardest part: It always seems so interesting in my head. Translating that onto the page...not so much (very often, anyway.)

Anonymous said...

I'm just like Dean. I have these great thoughts, then start typing and after I'm done, I'm like, "hey, where did all that description go?" It doesn't always make it to the page the way I want it to.

AJ's wHooligan in the A-Z Challenge

RichardK said...

In addition to the W's you need to remember the CROW - Characterization, Relationship, Objective, Where. Not including these in the start of your story, let alone forgetting it throughout, is going to pull the reader away from your tale and into a Amish erotica tale.

<a href=">Richie on Writing</a> in the A to Z Challenge

Pat Hatt said...

Yep, if you can't keep them on the hook, they won't stop and look

SK Anthony said...

But if I wrote it, surely its interesting! err...what? No? lol I agree though, just like every scene must add something to the story, every scene must be interesting. It's easy to lemme go take another look at my scenes (darn it!) o_0

Chrys Fey said...

Sometimes long descriptions are tedious and boring to read. Everything you write has to have a purpose and, of course, be interesting. That's why thrillers are so great to write. There's always something interesting happening. :)

cleemckenzie said...

Oh, yes that. Great I word and great advice.

Carol Garvin said...

Readers differ in their priorities... whether they like a specific kind of plot, lots of action, a well-described setting, fascinating characters, etc., but I'm pretty sure they'd all say "Interesting story? Of course! Duh!" 'Interesting' is a vague concept, and something that's easy to take for granted. The trouble is, I wonder if what we as writers think is interesting differs from what the reader is looking for.

Your "I" gives me lots to ponder, thanks. :)

Anonymous said...

Great advice. I have definitely set books aside because while the writing was good, it just wasn't interesting enough.

~Patricia Lynne~
Story Dam
Patricia Lynne, YA Author

Anonymous said...

I do this. I read each chapter and say. Was it interesting. Did it tell me something new. Should it be in there. With my own books not others. haha.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

@Christine, I've even read bestsellers that couldn't sell their opening. I read on because I hate wasting money.

@Alex, so true, Captain!

@Fanny, me too! I'm cutting like crazy.

@Suzanne, I especially like how children keep us honest.

@Rachna, true!

@Dean, that's why editing is so vital. We have to hang in there.

@Elsie, I find that happens if I'm distracted. But if I can dive in and live the scene, the writing gets better.

@Richard, an Amish erotica tale! Wow, who knew!!! LOL

@Pat, that rhymes!

@Katherine, 0_o, you're so funny!

@Chrys, I love thrillers for that reason.

@Lee, thanks!

@Carol, pondering is good! And you're right, interesting can vary. I guess that's why they have genres.

@Patricia, me too! Hate when that happens. Especially if it's one of my favourite authors.

@Sydney, good habit!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Great point. I have read books where I find myself skimming scenes because they're all about the interesting setting and nothing that moves the story forward.

Unknown said...

I love your website, particularly since I an insecure writer. Where can I sign up? You are one of my gems from the A to Z challenge!

Unknown said...

I personally find tension is the best way to maintain the reader's interest. The sort of tension that makes it difficult to put the book down... After the hook, you gotta reel ;)

Anonymous said...

I loved how the reader and the writer are in a sort of dance with one another. I want to just immerse myself in writing sometimes and bad things can happen. But I have the opposite problem. I only care about the interesting bits and forget to buffer it with descriptions which also build character.

Unknown said...

I've always preferred to read plays because I know the author isn't going to drown me in boring description that adds nothing to the story. It's one thing if there is a good reason our George Clooney lookalike sees his reflection in a shop window. Perhaps he's keeping an eye on someone behind him but just can't be impressed by his own reflection as he looks. We get progression and a piece of his character.

Besides, sometimes it's fun to let the reader's imagination fill in the scenery while you're pushing the story forward.

J.L. Campbell said...

It's true that when my attention starts to wander if I'm editing it means I haven't done my job well. If my mind is wandering. The reader's will too.

Michelle Wallace said...

I don't think a writer can be truly objective with regards to this... but I'm also thinking that what interests one reader may not interest the next...
In today's "quick fix" world, it's even harder to keep a reader's interest...

Lisa said...

I've read books technically very good, but lacking some spark and I think you just nailed it. Especially, I like interesting characters. If your characters are interesting then the scenes should be too...! Good posting subject!

Shan Jeniah Burton said...

This is something I've been learning over the last year or two as I first began plotting. It definitely ups the interest factor for each scene, because I used to add interesting things when the story was really dragging, and now I already have a purpose and interest factor for every scene.

Now that I've begun serious revision, I'm reverse engineering interest factors into WIPS that lagged badly and wandered aimlessly far to often.

Hooray for your "I" post. Very informative, and, oh, what's the word - ah, INTERESTING! =)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Joylene .. great I word and the same applies to blogging posts - this was 'inticing'!! We can't bore people .. everything needs life of some description ..

Good I .. cheers Hilary

Bevimus said...

Great reminder!