Recently a secular organization asked me to address their annual conference, on how to write effectively. (You can see the link to the video of the presentation – and the handout I provided to the participants -- here. Small enticement: The handout is a kind of resource list/crash course for effective writing and publishing.)
My two latest books are controversial, and that’s why this organization wanted to hear what I had to say about handling touchy subject matter. In addressing others who might want to write on something controversial, I shared with them the most important element of persuasive writing.
It is this: The first task of a persuasive writer is to anticipate, and address, the objections of the reader – before those objections arise in the reader’s mind.
What does that have to do with writing fiction, you may ask?
Everything. Because, more than any other kind of writer, the fiction writer must convince the reader to care about people who don’t actually exist, in predicaments wholly invented by the writer. Now, that’s persuasive writing!
Here’s an exercise to help you do that.
Choose either the plot of your WIP or an extended section of it. Now, imagine three people you know who just won’t put up with illogical or unbelievable plots. (We’re not talking about the writing, just the plot at this point.) Ah, there’s your snotty Aunt Eunice who points out plot holes in Murder She Wrote reruns. And your teenage son who rolls his eyes when something improbable happens at a movie and groans so loudly that you duck down in your theater seat. And don’t forget your spouse who throws across the room any book with too many coincidences.
Imagine them at their worst. Allow them to morph into avatars. Let them hold court on the plot of your novel. Let them be ruthless. Reason out what they would object to.
Then fix it. Every plot hole, improbable coincidence, silly sequence, gratuitous artifice.
Then ship those three avatar plot critics off to a Siberian prison that swirls in the middle of a perpetual ice storm forever, because they have nothing more to say.
Then take lung-deep, ah!-bright-wings breaths.
Lavishly, recklessly, write.