It feels like I always start out my posts by saying something along the lines of how I came to think of the topic of the post. It always begins with,”So I was reading a book and…” or something along those lines.
Well, I’m doing again. Because the best places to get ideas is from real life. And other pieces of creativity.
So I was watching TV. I know, it was weird to me, too. I’m going back to my normal book nerd habits ASAP. I was watching TV and there was this criminal who was being arrested. When the handcuffs were being slapped on and the murderer was being pulled away, she looked at the main character and said, “This isn’t over.”
This got me to think. When I’m writing, I tend to want to get down every detail of every second of the story. I hate writing time skips because I can’t help but wonder what happens between the chapters, even when I already know. But if we get down every detail, we start closing doors.
The comment that criminal in the show said opened a door. It gave the story a possible opportunity to bring this criminal back, for something else huge to happen. All with one little piece of dialogue. It keeps the story’s options open.
The same kind of thing goes for writing a story. If you tell everything, and I mean everything, to the reader, then there is nothing left up to the imagination. We can’t tell the entire story because even if it is our story, it becomes the reader’s story too when they start to read. So it’s best that they get to have some influence on that picture in their head.
For example, in Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, the story follows a freshman in college. Weeks pass in the beginning of the book, and even though it doesn’t say it, I can imagine the main character having to find her way to the library or the abundance of short “Hey”s she exchanges with her roommate. Rowell implies that these things happened, but doesn’t record every single second of it.
So keep all of those doors open. Not only will it help the reader connect, but it makes it easier for you to write. Say there is a sequel that you randomly decide to write. If you keep some of those options open by the end of your book, then you can carry them over to the next one. You can throw in plot twists so much easier and you can keep the reader wondering whether something will happen or not, so that they don’t predict the ending before it happens.
Doors are easy to close, too, without even realize it. You can bring things to nice, neat closes, tying off all of those loose ends, and accidently close a door. Closing doors isn’t a bad thing, but be careful. You should try and be aware when you are doing it and make sure that it is a path you don’t want to go down again.
My challenge for you is to look at some of the doors you’ve closed in your story. Do you really want them shut? It may be good to change it, to open them a little bit (even with a little piece of dialogue, like “It’s not over”) so that you have the option to go there again. Or even just to get your readers to wonder, let their imaginations roam free.
Maybe even find some open doors that need to close for the story to keep going in the direction you want it too. If a character just got out of a relationship and you want your readers to let go of their previous partner, then make sure that you push that possibility out of the picture. Maybe your character ends up despising them or finds a new girlfriend/boyfriend. Same goes with other doors you might need to close. Just push those possibilities out of sight, so the reader’s minds won’t be wandering away with them.
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Thank you for reading, and don’t stop writing!