Friday, 30 October 2015

Getting inside the reader's head

I am always struck by the way many writers are drawn to the very toughest of times in people’s lives.
Why do they do that? Well, let this story suffice. Years ago, I co-judged a short story competition for teenagers, most of whom wrote about domestic abuse. It was harrowing stuff and the judges were disturbed at what we were reading. What kind of life do these kids led, we asked ourselves in trepidation?
However, when we met the winners, you could not hope for happier, cheerier, well-adjusted young people. And the abuse? Well, as one said, ‘that’s where the drama lies.’
As a crime writer I guess I should have worked that out. Sometimes, you read a story and think something is missing.
For me, if you are going to tackle a tough subject - serious illness, betrayal, separation, abuse - the best writing is the writing in which the author plunges him or herself deep into the action and drags the reader with them whether the reader wants to go or not. Where they do not hold back on the raw emotion.
Ignore that and your story stays on the page, get it right and it makes its way into the reader’s mind.


John Dean

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