Have you ever been in a writing group and listening to a manuscript – possibly read out by one of your very good friends – and then realised that you’ve stopped listening. That you have drifted off partway through? That you have missed a chunk. Have you ever felt relieved that they’ve stopped reading? No?
Don’t lie. I know you have. So have I. And then I’ve felt guilty. And then I’ve decided it must be because I’m tired, or it’s been a long day, or because I’m stressed. Or because I’m distracted. In short, I’ve decided it must be my fault.
But what if it isn’t my fault? What if it’s their fault?
Here’s another question for you? Have you ever been in a writing group and listening to a manuscript – possibly read out by someone you don’t care for too much – you weren’t really paying that much attention. And suddenly you find that you’re gripped. You’re listening. You don’t want them to stop. You are disappointed when they do stop. You want more.
Whose fault is that? This is an easier question to answer, isn’t it. It’s their fault. The writer’s. Clearly they have written something that’s good. They have the X factor, the hook, the read-on-ability factor – whatever you want to call it.
I realised recently that this whole question of whether it’s easy to listen – or not – is a very good gauge of how good something is. If I’m gripped, chances are the story/writing is good, If I’m not gripped, well it isn’t.
So has your writing got the Grip-Factor or the Switch Off Factor?
Your friends won’t tell you the truth. So here is a light hearted look at how to tell.
How to tell if your writing has the Switch Off Factor
People are fidgeting, texting, writing notes, playing on their iPad, looking glazed over.
People have fallen asleep and are snoring.
People sigh when you finish – with relief.
There is utter silence in the room – everyone has left.
How to tell if your writing has the Grip Factor
There is utter silence in the room – everyone is hanging on to your every word.
People sigh when you finish – with frustration because they want more.
And yes, I’m being very lighthearted here, but it’s food for thought, isn’t it. Check out your audiences’ reactions next time you read 🙂
If you want to get the Grip Factor – when it comes to short story writing. There are still places on my day course next Saturday 9 March. How to Write and Sell Short Stories.