Creating a main impression in your scenes will manipulate your readers’ minds into filling in the unwritten details for you.
I have been out of town and away from consistent wifi for over three weeks while I went on vacation and attended DragonCon. I apologize for the lack of writing posts. Now that I’m home, I intend to focus on my blog again. Before my vacation, I had finished a series of blog posts about writing a few weeks ago, and one of those posts dealt with description. (Click here to read my earlier post on description.) Because description will make or break your story, I want to cover it in more detail.
Creating a main impression can be one of your strongest allies when trying to get your readers to fully picture the details in your story. Today, we will focus on the concept of creating a main impression, and over the next few days, I will describe a few techniques.
Creating a Main Impression:
First, I must mention the writer’s quandary: word count. We are bound by word count because of our publisher’s requirements, our own rules, and our readers’ attention spans. We walk a fine line between describing our scenery and boring our readers with too many words. Creating a main impression is a technique that minimizes our word count by getting our readers to imagine the scenery without us describing it in full.
Think about Honeydukes in Harry Potter. J. K. Rowling didn’t give us every detail about the candy shop, but we all felt as though we were right there. When we saw the movie, it fit with our original picture. Rowling created a main impression for us and let our minds create the rest. If you do a good job creating a main impression in your reader’s mind, your reader will fill in many of the details you don’t have time to write. Often, the reader’s mind will create something scarier, more beautiful, or more fearful than you can do on your own.
To create a main impression, we must influence our readers’ emotions.
Reading a good book is an emotional experience. No one sits down to read a good fiction book and hopes it’s boring. Readers want to feel what the characters feel; they want to be part of the journey and experience our world. Everything we do with characters, plot, writing techniques, style, and description is merely a tool that helps feed our readers’ emotional experience.
Take this to the smallest element of your story: the scene. Each scene should create a particular emotion in your reader, and leave him or her with a main impression. This means we need to know the main impression we want to leave our readers with in each scene. Therefore, the first step to creating a main impression: knowing what emotion you are driving at in your scenes.
Go back through your story and concentrate on the scenes. Ask yourself these questions:
- What main impression am I trying to leave the reader with here?
- What emotions do I want my reader to experience?
- Does my writing drive the reader to that emotion? (Yes, it is your job to drive the reader. You are the author. You have to do the work.)
- Is the scene kind of “blah?” How can I rev it up? (BTW, if your scene is not emotionally charged, you need to change it.)
You need to know what you want your reader to feel in each scene before you can begin to create a main impression. So get to know your story. Develop an understanding of how you want to affect your reader’s emotions. And stay tuned for the next post where we will be discussing how to choose details that enhance those emotions.
Fantasy novelist M. B. Weston is the author of The Elysian Chronicles, a fantasy series about guardian angel warfare and treason. Weston speaks to children, teens, and adults about writing and the process of getting published. For more information on M. B. Weston, visit www.mbweston.com. Find out more about The Elysian Chronicles at www.elysianchronicles.com.