Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tips from the Journey Part Two: My Imaginary Friends

Happy Wednesday my writing friends,

Last week I shared a tip I learned from my early days—too lee do—writing details as if viewed through a toilet paper roll. See here to understand.

This week’s tip from the journey is about my imaginary friend. Well, actually, “imaginary readers” is the term. Have you ever tried this method? I learned it from the second writing book I ever read (I got it from the library and can’t remember what it’s called), but I’ve seen the idea other places too.

We’re Story Tellers, Right? 
If you’re like me, I bet you enjoy whipping out your story-telling skills in a crowd. I love to see the response of friends as I dramatically share an experience—the smiles, looks of concern, laughter, relief. Their reactions (or lack thereof) ignite my energy to make the story more engaging.

That’s the idea of imaginary readers. It’s a way of thinking about the folks who will be reading our words as we write, imagining their responses, and letting that guide our scenes. I usually employ one of two methods, or sometimes both.

Single Reader
Since I write historical romance, I pick a woman who delights in a good love story for my imaginary reader. As I write, I imagine I’m telling her the story. Sometimes this is a person I make up, and other times it’s a real friend of mine. I can hear her excitement over a romantic scene or her disappointment over a big conflict. I feed off of it!

The Campfire
Don’t you love hearing a story being told around a campfire? I have awesome memories of being at summer camp and my favorite counselor telling, “Who’s Got My Shinny Bone?” to us freaked-out little campers. “You got it!”

I want my stories to generate that edge-of-seat response, so sometimes I imagine myself in front of a campfire, spinning my scene to the expectant campers. I see their faces reflecting the fire and their eyes waiting for the next event to happen. I play off of it, adding suspense when needed, a quiet moment, or explanation.

Imaginary readers have been in my toolbox for years. How do imaginary readers help you? I'd love to hear. 

God bless and happy writing!


PS Don’t forget to send your Ask O Questions to me at or here in the comments.

photo credit: <a href="">eskimoblood</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

photo credit: <a href="">Michelle Hebert Fashion</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>