Clarification In Fiction

Just a quick note today. 

As I go through this draft of my WIP, I notice how important clarity is.

What makes sense to the writer may not make sense to the reader, and we need to be sure things are crystal clear.

It’s called understanding motivations and goals. The reader needs to be clear on why a character thinks, does or believes something.

Sounds simple, right?

Well, not always, and this is why: We writers get so inside our novel that we can’t always see it from the reader’s perspective. We know the reason behind our character’s actions and so sometimes an explanation is easily overlooked. We think the point has been made clear enough, especially to us since God knows we’ve probably read that scene a million times and we’re so inside that character’s head that we know them better than we know ourselves.

Thing is, sometimes you just have to say it. If a reader is left to wonder, Why? then we haven’t done our job.

Think about it. Pick up a good book, one that you love. Were you left wondering why certain things happened? Probably not, because good books don’t typically have plot holes like that. They get filled by the writer so the reader has a smooth ride with their book.

So I’m thinking about clarity.

For every single choice my protagonist makes, I am making certain the reasoning behind it is stated and understood.

How about you? Ever been left confused by a character’s motivations? How do you avoid that in your own writing?


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5 Comments

  1. I have and it is very annoying. The way I *try* to prevent it, is other readers. There is no substitute for a set of fresh eyes. They pick up on one read what I didn't see in twenty passes! Which is why I'm printing a story right now to hand to my librarian friend. Great post!

  2. I'm fresh on my writer's journey and new to your blog. You're way ahead of me so I'm glad I found you. I think with characters it's a balance of saying too much with not enough. I'm trying to work on describing people in a subtle way where by their behavior and conversation the reader can draw their own conclusion on things.

  3. Very insightful. This definitely happens to me! Sometimes I'll "map" out the book in terms of my main character's motivation to make sure it all makes sense.