I read somewhere, can’t remember where, that the way to tell a story is to hit the ground running and don’t stop until you reach the end.  That’s a pretty good definition of thrust.

Even though my stories aren’t fast-paced thrill rides, I always try to do precisely that… hit the ground running and not stop until I reach the end… because it prevents my characters from becoming boring and my readers from skipping parts of my story because they aren’t relevant.

As you might guess, my stories do tend to go straight from beginning to end with no side trips and they have fewer characters than many stories have because extraneous characters take away from the story. Nor do I often include a lot of icing or window dressing.  I know many readers love the extras that come with fiction and, yes, sometimes I give in and provide a lot of background.  (Hint:  Wanted Sharpshooter is one such story.)  But generally, I try not to stray.

Think about it.  If you are chasing the end as hard as you can, you pass up all those tempting side trails without even seeing them.  And you end up telling the story you set out to tell.   All without boring the reader.

This isn’t for everyone.  Some of us do our best writing by using a meandering method that takes us to unexpected places… places that are both wonderful and glorious and that we didn’t know existed until we took that side trip.  For the rest of us… we writers who don’t stumble into Nirvana… hitting the ground running and not stopping until you reach the end is a good way to give your readers the story you want them to have.

4 responses to “THRUST”

  1. I very much agree with the line of thinking you’ve laid out here. I’m one of those writers who is often distracted by details and descriptions and other things that just don’t matter. Sometimes that’s a good thing; I find that Nirvana and it rewards me with a story that I was never expecting to write.
    But most of the time, I end up writing a story that only writers will appreciate. Because most people (not everyone) come for the story, not for those extras. And it’s hard not to feel sometimes like I’m putting in those extras to supplement a sub-par story. I’ll have to keep this mind from now on.
    Great essay, by the way.

    • It’s amazing how much we learn about our craft over time. Sometimes when I write a ‘tip’ I’m not sure if it’s something worth writing about. Glad to know you think it was.

  2. Florence
    All tips are worthwhile to the writer who is trying to improve their craft. And hitting the ground runing is excellent advice.
    I recently had this brought home to me in a competition I entered. Two judges said that my opening should be the bar scene because that was just magic.

    I did what they recommended and the first five pages were incorporated into 5 lines within that magic scene.

    The moral of the story?
    I got stuck in the mud before I managed to hit the ground running.
    Grest blog.

    • I suspect most if not all writers have had that same experience. I got so tired of being told my story started on page 5 instead of where I thought it started that I … finally… began truly looking for the place where the action began and the reason for the story was made clear. And then I realized that’s what was meant by ‘hitting the ground running.’

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