Writing the Road Less Traveled

Surprise yourself. If you outline, be loose as you lay out the story. If you just write without an outline, hack away in semi-darkness. If you know your destination, don’t take the freeway. Explore the back roads. Visit landmarks that are off the beaten track. Ask yourself as you write, Is there another way to get where I’m going?
The above quote came from Gail Carson Levine's blog where she posts about predictability. Some of you may know Ms. Levine for her young adult books such as Ella Enchanted. But she's been writing mysteries lately and she has a lot to offer in the way of help for writers.

I think the above quote really does sum up what we should be thinking when it come to writing books that satisfy our readers. She's relentless in questioning whether the point being offered is taking the easy way out for the writer and thereby cheating the reader. Frankly, she's got a point. I do think that writer's are a hard reader to satisfy. We tend to tear things apart and be much more critical than a non-writing reader. But shouldn't we be stretching, trying to make those books the best they can be? Shouldn't we be interested in creating that mystery that surprises and delights?

She talks about when you come to a plot point in the story to make a list of possibilities for the book. Then look at them all and take the one that is the most unlikely or hardest to get to... take the road less traveled. Offer your readers an opportunity to be surprised and inspired and delighted. Make the story worthwhile to both yourself and your readers. Keep them coming back. 

And while your at it, check out Gail's blog... it's worth the trip.

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