In a guest post on Writers Helping Writers, Chris Winkle, editor-in-chief of the Mythcreants blog, writes about how novelists can make strategic choices that increase reader engagement. Winkle says that “novelty” – whether humor or an uncanny being – can spark a reader’s interest, but only for the moment. Jokes aren’t funny the third or fourth time they’re told, and monsters lose their efficacy the more they’re seen.
“Technically, any part of a story can be crafted to feel novel, whether it’s creative description, witty dialogue, or an unexpected plot twist,” Winkle writes. Genre stories may have their own conventions about what is considered novelty; science fiction and fantasy writers focus on unique worldbuilding, while a mystery writer will seek out some special quality in a sleuth or bizarre villain.
Winkle warns that fresh ideas don’t have a long shelf life and that novelty requires ongoing work. As an example, she notes how frequently J.K. Rowling introduced new characters, spells, creatures, devices, and settings through the Harry Potter series to engage her readers. While novelty became less important as her readers became attached to the characters and committed to the story, it’s unquestionable that the introduction of clever beings and magics helped excited her readers.
Read the full post here