At a recent writer’s group we were discussing the various rules of writing. Some we were aware of. Some we were not. Some we were very pedantic about. It was recently said to me that, “you have to know the rules, to break the rules.” But why do these rules even exist?
For a fun exercise we each chose a rule to break. The rule I chose to break was ‘leave breadcrumbs for your readers.’ So, no secrets. Give everything away straight upfront.
The following is a scene that I wrote for this writer’s group exercise:
Sue sat on a hard café chair listening to the cacophony of sound around her. The clatter of cups. The ebb and flow of voices from other customers. This was same café chair that she had sat on every Saturday morning for the last five years. Always waiting for her boyfriend, Sam to show up. He was always late.
Pity. Sam was so hot, but such an abusive twat.
She took a sip of the sweet strong brew and let out a sigh. She wondered why she stayed here waiting. Maybe because she had such a crap upbringing. Totally messed her up. Brought up by an abusive single mother, and no father figure to speak of, she always craved male attention. Boy could she pick them!
She escaped home as soon as she could. Hooked up with the first guy that said that, ‘they were made for each other.’ The next guy said, when they first met, ‘you complete me.’ She should have run.
And now here she was. Though, to be honest, being out all night and partying with the girls the night before, was probably not a good idea. She looked like a wreak. Sam would comment. He always did.
Suddenly, she leapt to her feet, slammed the chair into the table so hard it made the coffee cups rattle, and walked out of the café… and out of Sam’s life.
As you can see, there is so much about Sue that we already know. If I was writing a novel about Sue’s life, I would have her backstory scattered like breadcrumbs throughout the narrative. I love stories that I gradually find out more and more of the character and what makes them tick. This exercise certainly highlighted to me the necessity of leaving breadcrumbs, little snippets of information, to entice the reader to want to know more, and so, therefore, to keep reading.
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