30 May 2008

model homes, model stories

I put my finger on something recently. Good stories let the readers fill in most of the blanks.

Wow. Sounds easy huh? Yeah, well, think about it. While you do, I'll provide an analogy that, after your thinking, might confuse you even more.

Empty houses don't sell well. It's a known fact. That's why there are furnished model homes. Most folks can't visualize worth a damn, so they need some help.
The bed goes here. See, how pretty a picture looks here...

However, houses that are too stacked with the homeowners' junk don't sell well, either. People can't mentally remove the junk and put themselves and their things in that space. They see clutter, even in a big room, and think: Gaaa! There's no room for my stuff in here! The eye might fill in gaps; it does not like to create them.

So it is with writing. Too much information leaves no blanks for readers to fill in with thier own experiences, their own stuff. Too few, too spare on the details, and readers just wander through the story, feeling lost and echoey. Where does the balance lie? It's likely different for everybody. But the stories in our hold for voting box do tend to leave room for readers to actively participate in the telling of it by inserting their own perspective.

6 comments:

David E. Hughes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David E. Hughes said...

Interesting analogy, Bets. I think it might be helpful for readers if we could find examples of good gaps and bad at some point.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

That's a really good idea.

JR Tomlin said...

Speaking of stories held for voting... I hate to be an impatient author but it seems to come with the territory. :)

Has the decision been made on the ones held for voting yet? I'm wondering if an email might have gotten hung up in my spam filter. Thanks.

David E. Hughes said...

The editors are meeting Friday night to try to hash this out. Everyone who has a story on "hold" should know our final decision by Sat or Sun.

JR Tomlin said...

Thanks, David. I've run out of fingernails to chew.