Megan Short | Romantic Suspense Author

Megan Short writes multicultural romantic suspense with dark, brooding heroes and independent, feisty heroines.

Trusting your reader

On the nose!

When you invite a reader into your fictional world, it involves an element of trust. Part of this trust involves writing to respect your reader’s intelligence without assuming they have psychic abilities.

I will give you an example of a failure to do so with one of my most dreaded comments: “OTN”. This is where you have made a point with something so obvious or clichéd that it’s too “on the nose”. I get this comment a lot more than I’d like to, but I’m grateful for it because it points to something that takes my reader out of the story. Here are some recent examples from my own work:

David’s fists involuntarily clenched. Rose was at risk.

The problem with these two sentences is now obvious to me: 1. When your fists clench in this context, it is involuntarily. 2. The reader already knows that Rose is at risk (and that David knows that she is at risk!). Solution: David’s fists can clench, and we can find out what he’s going to do about it.

It just wasn’t fair.

Clichéd and obvious inner monologue. Tells us nothing about the character and doesn’t move the story forward. Solution: take it out.

At the time I wrote them, I included these extraneous sentences for clarity. I wasn’t trusting my reader to read and understand what I had written.

How do you trust your reader to read between the lines without veering into detail-so-sparse-they-need-to-be-psychic territory? Great first readers, of course. If I didn’t have them to scribble “OTN!!!” all over my work, everyone would suffer.