Tuesday, January 13, 2009


“One of the surest ways to bore readers and cause them to stop reading is to tell them what they don’t have any reason to want to know.” -- William G. Tapply in The Elements of Mystery Fiction
So how do I decide what the reader doesn’t need to know? Intuition? Quija board? Flip a coin? I read this quote everyday as I go through my list of ideas for the blog, and I still can’t answer my own question. I guess Mr. Tapply is referring to information about a character or setting that has nothing to do with the story. Usually, I know more about my characters than I include in the prose. Some background information isn’t pertinent. It might be in a different story.

My main problem is that I often don’t include enough information about a character or setting and leave the reader with unanswered questions. So the opposite of this quote is true also. It’s possible to omit information that readers do have a reason to want to know.

If you have any thoughts on this topic, I’d like to read them. Use the Comments link to share your ideas.

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