Being predictable can be a death sentence for your writing.
What’s the point of reading anything if the reader easily figures out what’s going to happen way before they are suppose to? I mean, ask yourself this: how many times have you been watching a TV show or reading a book and you figure out what’s going to happen right off the bat? It takes most of the fun out of the experience.
Now granted, some of this can’t be helped. You’ll always have a reader who is too smart for their own good and figures out everything. Or the story you’re writing doesn’t involve surprises or unpredictable climaxes. Which means being predictable isn’t much of a problem. Of course, that kind of writing usually leans toward literary fiction and is more focused on the human condition rather than the plot.
But if you’re writing something like a thriller or horror or any of the other many genres out there, you don’t really want your story to be easily figured out by the reader. Especially if you plan on having a twist ending or surprise plot element.
Think about the movie The Sixth Sense. It’s one of the most remembered movies of all time because of the surprise ending. But imagine if the story was poorly written and people were able to figure the twist out halfway through the movie. Everyone would’ve left disappointed. This is why it’s crucial for your story to be unpredictable. Is this a problem you have? Well don’t worry, here are three ways to avoid being predictable in your writing.
3. Tell Different Kinds of Stories
Use or merge different story genres together to help craft a unique story. For a fun experiment, try taking two things that don’t necessarily go together, and see what you can come up with. This will help avoid different traps you might fall into when you’re just doing one kind of story.
This doesn’t mean you always have to go way outside of the box and leave your readers barely able to follow what’s happening in the story. You just want to tell stories that haven’t been told in some iteration before. For instance, how many romance stories end exactly the same way? It’s boring. Always aim to create something original. Because if the story has never been told before, it’s unlikely the reader will be able spoil it for themselves by figuring out what’ll happen.
2. Avoid Cliches and Common Tropes
This can be one of the tougher things to follow, but it goes with creating original, never before told stories. Of course, sometimes it’s just too hard to pass up on a good cliche— especially if it helps move your story forward.
My advice, if you do find yourself using or needing to use a cliche, put your own personal spin on it. Do something different that the reader won’t expect. I use cliches as a misdirection. This allows you to surprise the reader because they think they figured out what will happen, but then you pull the rug out from underneath them. Again, if you can’t avoid cliches, at least don’t overuse them. But preferably, avoid them like debt collectors.
1. No Dead Space
If you hit a slow patch in your story, try throwing something a little crazy or unexpected in there. Just make sure it makes sense for the story. If you keep the plot moving and the reader stays deeply invested, it won’t give them the urge to try and figure things out ahead of time.
Often readers spoil a story because they get bored with it. The boring or predictable writing takes them out of the world you have created and they start thinking about the plot for themselves. Once they do this, it’s much more likely they’ll figure out what’s going to happen and ruin the book for themselves. This is why you shouldn’t leave those chunks of dead space that often hits right in the middle of a book. If anything, this is where you should ramp up the action to take the reader eagerly to the finish.
I hope these quick tips help you when it comes to telling your future stories. If done right, your writing will be fresh and unpredictable. After all, the reader just wants a story they haven’t been told a million times before. That’s not too much to ask. And maybe you’re just the person to tell those stories.
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