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Courting the Comfort Zone

I had just finished writing up a chapter of my next release, Sweet Child of Mine. While as a writer, you have those periods of how it is hard to get started for a new scene or chapter. This last chapter was hard for another reason; it was the topic I was writing. This next book is a paranormal story. The paranormal aspect has a bit of a backstory going back to what I had referred to in the story as the incident. This incident is what I was describing. It had to do with what happened to the couple’s son who was no longer an active member of the family. That was hard. Okay, I write murder mysteries and thrillers, which one would not consider a light topic. What I had to write about the incident was something I had not something I had ever written about before, and was certainly … heavy. I tried to write this chapter in a way that the reader’s imagination could run wild. While it was on purpose and not me being cagey with the topic, but part of it, the incident is pretty dark. It had taken me some time to get through the topic. I kept considering how to write it; how much detail I should put in there, and how much should I leave for the reader to fill in.

Topics outside a writer’s experience or comfort zone can go either very well or very bad. Either the reader will be impressed with the type of detail or imagery the writer gives them, or they will become disenchanted with the writer. A poorly written anything will turn off a reader. Certain topics just flow out of a writer. Those topics that are darker, deeper, not something of the everyday take a bit of talent and skill for the writer. A technique is to give the reader enough for them to take on what happened in the story. This is not the writer being lazy or not knowing how to finish the scene. The reader of your story likes the genre, so chances are they have either read other works of yours or in that genre. They can fill in blanks and gaps given their passion for the topic. Setting the scene so far and then letting the reader mentally complete what happens between the pages, without frustrating the reader, allows them to feel a bit more involved in the story. Instead of just having a story being dictated, having a little bit of ‘what do you think happened’ in a story engaging the reader more.

Murder-mystery, thriller, suspense readers do not like to have a story feel incomplete. They like the puzzle. They enjoy the slow reveal. If you mess that up, they will certainly let you know (in the form of a low-star review). If you just drop off and not put in enough hooks for the reader to want to fill in the blanks, they will call you on not finishing the story and cheapening out of writing the story properly. So, if a writer is going to use this technique, they better do well by their readers. I only hope my readers feel I did the same with this next release!

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