Profile image
Story Views
Last Hour:
Last 24 Hours:

Making the Reader NOT Work Too Hard is Hard Work

% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.

After reading a lot of fiction drafts, I know a common problem for writers, myself included, is trying to write a novel or short story that gives “just” the right amount of details to your readers so they

1. Understand what is going on in the story.
2. Aren’t bogged down or bored by details.
3. Root for your protagonist.
4. Know where they are in the world (or “other worlds”)–and when, too.

The number one thing you should never, ever do as a fiction writer is purposefully keep your reader guessing so many details that they become frustrated and feel disoriented in the story. Don’t try to be clever.

Let’s take for example a who-dunnit mystery. The detail that you don’t want readers to know is the criminal, but you still have to give readers setting and character details, including enough description of the criminal that eventually the protagonist, and maybe a careful reader, can figure out which suspect is to blame.

Your job as the writer and creator of the story is to orient your readers in the story. If you’re purposefully being vague because you’re worried you’re giving too much away, you probably aren’t giving enough away. Remember, you know your entire plot (most likely–even pantsers have some idea of how the book or story is going to end…), and this is why you think everything you write is so obvious that your reader will be bored or have the entire story figured out in the first paragraph.

How do the best mystery writers do it? How do fiction writers keep you turning pages? How do those authors who are good at putting twists at the end of their books and movies build scenes and orient readers and still surprise at the end? Study these books and figure that out. As always, the best way to learn how much detail and description to put into your novel is to read in your genre and pay attention to what published authors are doing.

The other thing you absolutely should do is let someone else read your writing. If you don’t live by any other writers for an in-person critique group, then you can find an online one. Ask Facebook friends to be beta readers and if there were any points where they were confused at your plot, characters, or setting. Enter a contest and pay for a critique (from a trusted sponsor–like WOW!). Hire an editor who has worked with another writer you know. There are a lot of ways to find someone to read your work, but it’s a must. You just can’t critique your own writing.

One of the biggest pieces of feedback that I’ve been giving lately is what I’ve been talking about here…orienting your reader. So remember: every time you start a scene in a new place, every time you introduce a new character, and every time an important plot event takes place, you have to give your reader enough details to know what’s going on!

Margo L. Dill is a novelist, writing coach and teacher, and WOW!’s managing editor. To find out more about the classes Margo teaches for WOW!, including the novel class that starts the first Friday of every month, go to our classroom here. To find out more about Margo and her books, go here. 

Compass photo above by Jurgen Appelo on 

(C) Copyright

Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!‘s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now!

Never Stale! The Muffin provides daily writing tips, inspiration, and news from the bakers of WOW! Women On Writing.


Support BeforeitsNews by trying our natural health products! Join our affiliate program
Order by Phone at 888-809-8385 or online at

Get our Free Ebook, "Suppressed Health Secrets"  with  Natural Cures THEY don't want you to know!

APeX - Far superior to colloidal silver!  Destroys Viruses, Bacteria, Pathogens with Oxygen plus Silver!Supreme Fulvic - Nature's most important supplement! Vivid Dreams again!
Ultimate Curcumin - Natural pain relief, reduce inflammation and so much more.
MitoCopper - Bioavailable Copper destroys pathogens and gives you more energy. (See Blood Video)
Oxy Powder - Natural Colon Cleanser!  Cleans out toxic buildup with oxygen!  
Organic Hemp Extract (CBD) - Full Spectrum high CBD (3300mg) hemp extract eases stiff joints, relieves stress and more!
Nascent Iodine - Promotes detoxification, mental focus and thyroid health.

Smart Meter Cover -  Reduces Smart Meter radiation by 96%!  (See Video)

FINAL WARNING!   Diseases are EXPLODING!  Watch this Video about APeX and You'll THROW AWAY Your Colloidal Silver!   APeX destroys Viruses, Bacteria and other Pathogens with the power of Oxygen PLUS Silver!  Nobody else has a product like THIS!   See why the inventor hasn't been sick in 16 years and why you'll never hear about it on the FAKE NEWS!  Get some now and tell your friends about it too so we can reach more people!  

APeX Interview - Superior to Colloidal Silver from Lee Canady on Vimeo.

Learn about APeX Here and Get the 50 Page Report in PDF format.   Call us at 888-809-8385 to order by phone.

Report abuse


Your Comments
Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green




Email this story
Email this story

If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.