Striking the Balance


Apart from spelling, what’s the MAIN reason why the writer/reader relationship is disturbed?

If there is an overriding error writers make, it is shifting attention within the same paragraph or scene, rather than continuing to develop the same idea they began with.

A paragraph is a discrete unit of thought that expands one specific idea, not three or four. If you find yourself shifting gears to start a new topic, begin a new paragraph instead. For creative writers, this might not be a paragraph but a “scene” -that little part of a chapter which translates across to drama or cinema as a scene. Shifting attention too swiftly disrupts the rhythm which, by now, you’ve worked so hard to build up.

Beginning a new paragraph or scene is like a new beat; if it’s not in rhythm, the reader has to re-orient their attention. Scenes and paragraphs should change logically and not too suddenly, unless you’re trying to disorient your reader, which is tricky to do successfully.

Think about the trilogy of Bourne movies: The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. Most noticeably in the last two films, a “shaky camera” technique was used to supposedly increase the viewers’ sense of reality or of actually being there in the scene. For many viewers, myself included, this took some getting used to -the constantly shifting angles and perspectives created a sense of vertigo and dizziness which continually threw me out of the film. It was a new rhythm, which it took a while to get used to- and it paid off, but it’s not an easy technique to master, and risks ejecting the readers or viewers straight out of the work you’ve slaved so long to involve them in.

In essays, it’s a good idea to begin each paragraph with a topic sentence describing the claim or point of the paragraph, thus orienting the reader to the purpose of the paragraph. A cinema director uses markers or landmarks to keep the viewer anchored; essay writers have to explicitly state these key points.