When reading a book, or listening to a story, a reader needs to know that he is in good hands. He must be able to float down the river of narrative on the raft of his imagination in a dream state, secure in the knowledge that the author has all of the threads of the tale firmly in her grasp. There should be no hidden rocks jarring him along the way, unless they are purposefully placed there by the author for a particular effect. Because of this, it’s important that the reader have all of the information necessary at any one point in the story to make sense of the immediate events, and the example above shows what can happen when he doesn’t.
Readers want to feel that they are in the hands of a writer they can trust, who is in command of her narrative and who isn’t trying to plug holes in her story as she goes along. To avoid this, it’s a simple matter of inserting the necessary detail earlier in the story – planting the seed. For example, in the story line above, an early interview with our hero by an intrepid reporter could reveal that, although he may have been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, something frequently harped upon by his political opponents, his tycoon father wanted him to have a workingman’s values, and had therefore insisted that he learn the business literally from the ground up. He had therefore spent the summers he had off from his Ivy League education working construction sites, where he learned how to operate heavy machinery and walk the dangerous high steel. Not only would this interview set up the ability he needs to have at the end of the story, but it would also give us deeper insight into his character and better flesh out world of the novel. The reader won’t feel like they’re listening to a little kid trying to explain the plot of a movie, but instead feel safe in the hands of a master storyteller.
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