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Get Real
Still more tips for young writers ...

Get Real
Jill McDougall
You've worked hard on your story and now your best friend is reading it. Better still, they're not yawning. Whew. As a writer, you've achieved your very first goal: keep the reader awake.


Your second goal? Make it hard for them to stop reading. And no, that doesn't mean super-gluing your story to the end of their nose.

Here's what it DOES mean. You (oh wondrous writer) have to make your story seem so real, so completely believable that the reader is sucked right into your story world. And here's the good news: there's a simple trick to help make this happen.

To get you started, here's a quick quiz.

When someone reads your story, what sense do you want them to use?
Their ...

a) hearing
b) taste
c) sight
d) touch
e) smell

If you said all of them, you're a genius. Read on my friend and I'll explain why.

When you write a story, you create a world that doesn't really exist, right? You make up people and give them names. You make up places- houses or shopping malls or alien spaceships ... whatever. You make up conversations and events and well, ... everything. It all comes out of your brilliant brain. But because it's not a real world, you have to work hard to fool your reader into believing it exists. How? Come closer and I'll tell you.

It's not enough for the reader to see the world you've made up. They must hear it, taste it, feel it and smell it. Why? Because ... te dah ...THAT'S WHAT THEY DO IN THEIR REAL EVERYDAY WORLD. You trick the reader into experiencing your fake world by tickling their senses. Simple, yes?

Here's an example. In the scene below, the reader's senses are being stimulated on four occasions. It mightn't seem obvious at first 
because we writers are a sneaky lot. (It pays to be subtle.) Can you spot all four?

"Where are we doing today?" said Jack, crunching toast.

"Shopping," Mum said.

"Fishing," Dad said.

"Playing pirates," said Sam. He glugged a mouthful of juice and let out a rotten-egg burp.

Jack took another mouthful of toast. The butter was definitely off. "Let's go to Magic Mountain," he said.


Here are those sneaky examples in living colour:


"Where are we doing today?" said Jack,
crunching toast.
"Shopping," Mum said.
"Fishing," Dad said.
"Playing pirates," said Sam. He
glugged a mouthfulof juice and let out a rotten-egg burp.
Jack took another mouthful of toast.
The butter was definitely off. "Let's go to Magic Mountain," he said.

 
   =hearing
     =smell
     =taste

 
Your turn now. Add some extra bits to the scene below to trigger the reader's senses.

 
Helga said, "This place is a swamp."


"Walk faster," Meg urged.

 
"There's too many bugs," said Helga.

 
"I know."

 
"There's something gross stuck in that log," Helga said.


"And now there's something worse to worry about," Meg said.  "Look."

 

Read your excellent scene to a friend!

 
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