Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘narrative momentum’

Creating Empathy For Your Characters (Secrets Of Narrative Drive), by Sarah Mussi

Just in case you are only now joining this series of posts, I’m going to reiterate a brief resume of my opening comments in post one, where I wrote that getting teenagers to read is a tough job. I pointed out that we know they have plenty of other things do with their lives, so as writers of novels for teens we need to roll up our sleeves and apply every tactic known to the craft of storytelling to get them not only to pick up our books but to carry on reading them when they’ve got past the initial storytelling hook.

In this post I’m going to share with you more on narrative drive and how to keep teenage readers glued to those pages.

The Secrets of Narrative Drive

Secret Number 4

drum roll…  tada!

  • whatever is ‘going to happen’ must matter to the reader 

To put this in context, remember in post three I wrote that the reader needs to be made the promise that ‘something is going to happen’ and that it will be worth reading on for. In order to encourage your reader to carry on reading you need to let them know the outcome is important.

Here’s the trick - you can only make the final outcome matter if the reader empathises with the protagonist.

So how can you seduce a reader into empathising with your main character?

I have a plan…

How you can you use this secret? 

  • Create a character who is likable (it sounds simple but you’d be surprised how often this is neglected).
  • Create a character who is a bit like your reader.
  • Give your character a huge hunger for a positive final outcome.

You can probably work out why the protagonist needs to be like your reader but why the ‘huge hunger’? As soon as we know someone wants something very badly we tend to want them to get it - in short we (mankind) love to see people’s desires fulfilled.

WATCH OUT FOR THE FIFTH SECRET OF NARRATIVE DRIVE COMING UP IN MY NEXT POST

***

Sarah Mussi’s author website: www.sarahmussi.com

Sarah Mussi’s bio page

***

United States (and beyond)

    

United Kingdom (and beyond)

     

Australia (and beyond)

The Door of No ReturnThe Last of the Warrior KingsAngel Dust     VibesProject 17Raven SpeakAcross the Universe

Writing Teen Novels
www.writingteennovels.com

Setting Up A Suspenseful Plot (Secrets Of Narrative Drive), by Sarah Mussi

I hope you have been sufficiently hooked to follow my series of posts. (Maybe it’s time to observe that getting people to read a blog post is a tough job too!)

Never mind. As a writer of young adult fiction I have learned a few tricks of the trade and the one thing that I’ve learned over the years that has been most effective in hooking Young Adult readers is how to harness the energy of narrative drive.

For narrative drive helps create compelling stories and keeps the reader glued to the pages. So let’s get straight on with…

The Secrets of Narrative Drive

Secret Number 3

drum roll…  tada!

  • A strong opening must set up the promise that something worthwhile is going to happen.

But why? I hear you ask. And these are the reasons:

A strong opening must promise the reader that something worthwhile is going to happen because this will make the reader feel it is worth carrying on reading. This sounds simple but it’s a bit more tricky than it seems.

Firstly, ‘something worthwhile is going to happen’ should not be confused with curiosity. Mere curiosity, or not knowing something, is not enough to stimulate the interest of the reader over the course of a novel. Secondly, the willful withholding of information in order to ‘arouse interest’ or ‘create a surprise’ can be extremely annoying.  Anyone who has ever had the misfortune to read a book like this knows the feeling. It’s counter-productive. It’s BOOK DEATH! So you have to be very cunning. These are the main things to remember and pitfalls to avoid:

  • Readers want a good ride, but
  • Readers are concerned the investment of their time and money will be wasted, so
  • Readers, especially teenage readers, are suspicious of writers.

So how can the writer convince the reader to keep on turning the pages?

The reader needs the promise that the reveal is worth waiting for, that the ‘something that is going to happen’ cannot be missed out on. In short that it is meaningful.

So how you can use this secret? 

  1. The battle of forces between the protagonist and the antagonist sets up the first expectation that something will happen, because only one force can win.
  2. So be sure you focus on the main conflict – keep it in view at all times.
  3. It also makes sense to establish what is at stake for each of these two opposing forces – in football if we know it is the World Cup they are playing for we are significantly more interested in the outcome of the match.

There are many examples of plots where ‘something worthwhile is going to happen’ is at the center of compelling storytelling in fiction. It’s called suspense. Can you think of any brilliant examples?

WATCH OUT FOR THE FOURTH SECRET OF NARRATIVE DRIVE COMING UP IN MY NEXT POST

***

Sarah Mussi’s author website: www.sarahmussi.com

Sarah Mussi’s bio page

***

United States (and beyond)

    

United Kingdom (and beyond)

     

Australia (and beyond)

The Door of No ReturnThe Last of the Warrior KingsAngel Dust     The RepossessionThe Traitor's KissShades of Earth: An Across the Universe Novel (Across the Universe)Winter Town

Writing Teen Novels
www.writingteennovels.com

On Creating Conflict (Secrets Of Narrative Drive), by Sarah Mussi

Getting teenagers to read is a tough job. We know for a start they have plenty more to do with their lives than pick up a book. We know that we can’t compete with the telly and wouldn’t dare try to steal time away from the mobile, but does that mean we don’t try at all?

Never!

The thing is if you are a writer of teen fiction you’ve got to find readers, and it’s up to you to figure out how. I knew it was going to be tough when I started writing for young adults, but I was up for the challenge. There was only one little caveat – if getting teenagers to read any book was going to be tough, then getting teenagers to read a specific book (my book) was going to be even tougher. So did I give up?

Never!

Why not?  Because over the years I’ve discovered a few secrets that have helped me hook in young adult readers and keep them dangling there on the edge of their seats craving more. I’m going to share with you – yes, all you aspiring teen writers out there – my trade secrets! So if you want an young adult to pick up YOUR book and read it avidly from cover to cover, here’s what you need …

You need Narrative Drive.

Narrative Drive helps create spell binding stories. It keeps the reader glued to the pages (I’ve tested this out on me, in the belief that what grabs me will probable grab them too!) So this set of twelve posts will reveal to ze world :

Secrets of Narrative Drive

Secret Number 1.

drum roll…  tada!

  • Narrative Drive exists in any situation where we have a powerful force or longing faced by an equally powerful obstacle.

For example: Narrative Drive is what keeps us watching a football match. It’s this first secret of Narrative Drive, the powerful force or longing faced by an equally powerful obstacle i.e. the two opposing teams that keep the audience gripped until one of the opposing forces triumphs.

So how you can use this secret?

  1. Create a powerful antagonist (could be a person, natural force or an internal feature of the protagonist)
  2. Pit your protagonist against your antagonist
  3. Let them both have the same story goal - but only one of them can win.

We have many examples of this technique being in popular fiction and in film too – do you have some favourites?

WATCH OUT FOR THE SECOND SECRET OF NARRATIVE DRIVE COMING UP ON MY NEXT POST

***

Sarah Mussi’s author website: www.sarahmussi.com

Sarah Mussi’s bio page

***

United States (and beyond)

    

United Kingdom (and beyond)

    

Australia (and beyond)

The Door of No ReturnThe Last of the Warrior KingsAngel Dust     Hold Me Closer, NecromancerThe Raven QueenThe RepossessionAcross the Universe

Writing Teen Novels
www.writingteennovels.com

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 105 other followers

%d bloggers like this: