Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Phone Call

No, I 'm not talking about that one, but I wish.

Yesterday, I got a phone call that started like this.

"Hey, Patti, how's it going."

I had no clue who was on the phone and it took me a good minute to figure it out. (I guess I didn't want to be rude and ask).

When I call someone, who I don't normally talk to all the time on the phone, I usually say, "Hey, it's Patti." This way the person I'm talking to knows who it is and we can start our conversation right away, instead of her saying three minutes later "Oh, it's Patti". I do this because apparently I sound really young on the phone. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked if my mom was home. I have used this to my advantage since if I know it's a telemarketer, I say no.

How does this relate to writing?

Let's pretend the person who called me is the author and I'm the reader. It took me a while to get situated – to know who I was talking to. Even though I like books that open with some action, I also like it when the author is clear about what is going on, so I'm not scratching my head for four pages going, "What the heck..." If it's too hard to follow, I'm less inclined to keep reading.

How about you? Do you like knowing what's going on right away in a book? Or do you like to be left guessing for a little bit?


Laura Pauling said...

I think it's finding that balance b/t not giving too much away and keeping some mystery. Not easy. :)

Bish Denham said...

It really depends on the story. The voice, the atmosphere. I like slowly wading into the water, but I also like diving in head first.

Anne Gallagher said...

I like to begin my books at the beginning. In the romance genre the "rule" is the hero and heroine need to meet within the first 3 pages. I like to have a little backstory (teeny tiny little bit) before they meet so you can feel at least you WANT to care what happens to them.

Lynn said...

Establishing a suspenseful mood in the first few pages keeps me reading even if a character's name has not been revealed. But when someone calls, I like to know who they are right away. Thankfully there is call display!

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I like to be grounded. This is something I'm working on in my own writing. I love a hook, but I don't want to be so into the hook I leave the reader lost.
~ Wendy

Melissa Marsh said...

I usually like to know right away what's going on, though not EVERYTHING. A little mystery is good, too.

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Great post Patti:) You need some idea of world, character, etc before being thrown into the flames.

Southpaw said...

Oh heck, I'll cut the person off and ask them who they are if I don't recognize their voice. It's rude of them not to tell me who they are.

In books, I like the mystery but it still needs focus to keep me interested.

PS: I changed my URL and username back to southpaw, but managed to mess up my feeds.

Carolyn V said...

I agree with you. I like to know what's going on. I get confused too easily. Plus it keeps me in the story.

Heidi Willis said...

What a great post! I'm so with you on the phone thing! I even give my first and last name, and sometimes where they know me from. ("Hi, this is Heidi Willis from church.") I guess I don't want to be embarrassed if they don't know who I am. :)

The book idea is something I've been thinking a lot about. Everyone seems to say you need to drop the reader off in the middle of the action, but at school I'm learning you can't do that without somehow quickly orienting your reader. I can guess about the little things, but the main stuff I need to know pretty soon. I'm easily confused!

Angela Felsted said...

Feeling disoriented isn't one of my favorite things, even so I do like a little mystery at the beginning of the story.