Forget that spoiler alert! Go on, do it! It’s time to give away the story!
Give away the story? Or at least part of it? Am I being serious?
Strangely yes. This week reading June by Miranda Beverley-Whittmore, I was struck by her clear statement of the events that would unfold in the course of the novel.
On page 4 she writes of the delights to come: of “the dark, terrifying night Lindie bashed in the man’s head, his hot brains quivering on her fingertips yes; but also the open, shimmering promise of the movie stars; the silky noose of the blackmail around everything the girls had come to love; the soft open moans of the stolen kisses; and the baby.”
What a great way to draw the reader in! Do I want to read on to learn about murder, blackmail, movie stars, stolen kisses and a baby? You bet I do.
So here’s the writing exercise. This one requires you have something already written – perhaps a short story you have never quite been happy with (I know I have a couple that fall into this category). Take the story and at an early point, say in the first 3 paragraphs, tell the reader what drama will unfold. Not the final resolution. That would be a real spoiler and you will notice that Miranda Beverly-Whittemore keeps back plenty. There is no indication as to who the murder victim is, who is the blackmailer or who is going to have a baby. Instead the reader has questions, all of which will be answered by the time the novel wraps up.
So do the same with your writing. Let your reader continue on their journey with questions needing answered. But see if this signalling of events in store makes your story more compelling.
I think it just might.