Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ways to Enhance Our WIP

As none of my students had written anything longer than an essay  as  a part of their school and  college assignments,  I was curious to read their short stories after I taught them the finer nuances of a short story.  I wanted to see how they handled longer writing assignments. The longest was a 10 page one, and the shortest a three page one. Practically all of them did justice to their stories.

 Though they enjoyed the short stories, none of them wanted to venture into WIP territory as yet. A WIP can be a daunting prospect for a novice writer. I thought it better that they  work on shorter writing assignments.  The WIP was left for the Advance Creating Writing Course which they all would join after this academic year ends in March.

 The girls were content with getting   few pointers from me on how to keep a reader’s  interest high while tackling longer stories. As I did not want them to be burdened down with the technicalities and complicated terms, I simplified the process for them.

            I am sharing my tips to enhance  a WIP:
             Awaken Interest.  Chapter beginnings are the place to awaken a reader’s interest. Right in the beginning of a chapter  pique the reader’s interest and curiousity.

             Avoid Ending a chapter by resolving a plotline. This will make it difficult to put the book down at the end of a chapter.

              Constantly surprise the readers Their reaction should be “Gosh, I did not expect this.” Let them wait eagerly for the next surprise.

              Avoid the predictable. Deliberately tread the untrodden path and go the unpredictable trek while generating a scene conflict and scene resolution.

              Don’t satisfy a reader’s curiousity  immediately. Make it a treasure hunt, one by one, the curiousity factor can be sated.

              On and Off,  Spook the readers  out of their lethargy. Throw in a few well meaning shocks: the kind that send tingles scurrying up and down the  reader’s spine.

               Constantly remind the reader of the protagonist’s problem. Warn of the repercussions if the protagonist’s problem is not solved. This is the hook that will keep the reader glued to the pages.  Be like a mother constantly reminding  and warning  a child.

              Try to End chapters with questions. This is a sure fire way to ensure that the reader will turn to the next chapter  to read the answers.

              Be mysterious, keep few secrets till the end, so that the reader is forced to follow you  chapter after chapter, till the last page.

               Don’t answer  the readers’ questions all at once. Tease, tantalize and torment them  by answering the questions one by one at the convenience of the plot. Make the reader keep returning for more answers.

 Would you like to share any tips that you are familiar with to enhance a WIP? How do you sustain a reader’s interest in a long book? What are the tricks you all use to keep a reader hooked and glued to the story till the last page?

Guest Posts and Giveaway. Today is the first anniversary of my blog. Don't forget to tune in on 25th March  and 29th March for two guest posts by David Baboulene, Author of  The Story Book, and a giveaway where two copies of this amazing book will be given to two lucky winners.


  1. Happy anniversary, Rachna. I'll get back here for the guest post, if I don't forget. lol

    The ONLY trick to keeping readers engaged I know is to write character-driven fiction where the writer shows the protagonist's wants, needs, fears, dreams, hopes, and loves.

    What do your characters want? What keeps them from getting it? What do they fear? What is making their fears realized? Make your readers care about your character. Period!

    The plot twists are for the plot-driven novel. Which I love to write. Donald Maass's book "Writing the Breakout Novel talks about microtension. Tension on every page. Every scene. Not just at the end of the chapters.

    Anyway, writers all have an opinion on this and they differ as much as there are grains of sand in the oceans. And they also agree as much as there are stars in the sky. :) Talk soon, Rachna.

  2. Happy Anniversary Rachna! As always, I am very glad I found your blog.
    Those are some great thing to think about. I am working on my "cliffhanger" chapter endings too. I need the reminder!

  3. Happy anniversary!

    Those are some very good tips. I hope that I'm doing them all by now.


  4. Happy blogiversary!
    I like this advice: "Spook the readers out of their lethargy". Love it.

  5. Happy anniversary! Three words: Goal, motivation and conflict. Ok, four words :)

  6. Happy Blogerversary!!!!

    Keeping the word count up can be a challenge. I often find myself throwing in an unlimited number of problems until I hit another major story arch. I do love to cause me some problems. =)

  7. Happy Anniversary for your blog, Rachna. Great tips all. If I were to add one it would be "listen to your MC's inner yearning. That will drive the story.

  8. What an amazing list of tips - I'm go to print them out and stick them with my WIP. Thank you!

  9. Happy Anniversary

    These are great tips
    Don’t satisfy a reader’s curiousity immediately, something a lot of novice writers do. :O)

  10. I've never been able to understand how a WIP can be daunting. Ever since I was tiny I wanted to write a book and never thought something that long would be scary. But a part of me understand that other people would feel differently.

    And Happy Annivesary! It's a great feeling to reach your first year milestone.


  11. Thanks for these wonderful tips. I will take a print out of them. :)

  12. Fun, fun, fun!

    I heard one that I thought worth mentioning: let the reader know just a smidge more than the main character; thereby engaging the reader in a protective role.

  13. Very helpful tips. Thanks!I try to make my characters so compelling (I give them a special quirk or two) that the reader will want to follow their story to the end.