Engaging your reader

It’s Friday! Welcome to the GWN blog. Today we have Mary Marvella talking about engaging your reader.

Here’s Mary!

I gave my first ever workshop to a group of writers early in June. I did my first ever PowerPoint presentation.  I do not play well with computers or other technical stuff, but I managed to create slides of participants’ beginnings with my comments and suggestions added.  Most of the writers made the same mistakes. They summarized.  They didn’t draw me in or make me care. When I explained they needed to create scenes so I could experience them with their characters, the writers seemed surprised.

When you have a story to tell you need to decide who is telling the story and how that character feels. Then you must show me how that character feels, hears, smells and tastes.


Billy was always in trouble.  Telling.

When Billy wasn’t tying his daddy’s shoes laces together while he slept, he tormented the cats by tying bells around their necks.  Showing some.

Billy crept up on his daddy sleeping in his recliner and snoring away. Daddy smells like cigarettes and sweat.  As carefully as he could, Billy tied the stained tennis shoe laces, glancing up to make sure no one was watching him. His stomach did a funny dance until he finished. Still silent but laughing inside, he slipped  around a corner and waited.

Do you want to know what happened?  Not telling.

Even memoirs needed scenes.

Stories and nonfiction books must have take aways to make me want to read.  If I can’t relate to the feelings of the characters or the author in some way, I will stop reading. I must feel there is a message for me somewhere in the pages, even with children’s stories, or especially in children’s stories.

As an editor, I need to feel something as I read. Let me into someone’s head or I’ll be bored.  Engage me and I’ll read all night!

Check out Mary’s website: www.MaryMarvella.com
Mary blogs here: www.pinkfuzzyslipperwriters.blogspot.com

Cindy here again! 

Thanks for being here, Mary! The third example was definitely more engaging.

Happy writing!



Torturing your characters

Today I’ve got Mary Marvella on the blog with an excerpt showing her torturing her character.

Here’s Mary!

Do you like to mess with a character’s head? My heroine thought the man she once loved but can’t afford to love again was visiting for a while. She could handle her attraction to him for a FEW days?

See what I did to her?


     “Un huh. But I couldn’t let you leave without a goodbye hug.” She grinned and whispered loudly, “I had to hear what you said to Electra.”

     Hugging Deidre felt more natural every day.

     Margo joined him at the door, while Electra stormed up the stairs.

     “It’s a good thing I’ll be able to track Electra’s spending after you leave to go back to wherever you’re stationed,” I commented.

     “Leave? Darlin’, I’m here to stay,” Jay announced. “I thought you knew.”

     “To stay?” I squeaked. “Stay?”

     “I retired. I’d been in the Marines for twenty years.”

     Margo looked as though she couldn’t breathe. Jay turned Deidre loose and reached for his wife, his ex-wife. She pulled away and stepped back. Her eyes looked like saucers and her complexion paled.

     “What’s wrong?” He looked at his daughter. “Does she do this often?”

     “No,” Dee pulled away and grabbed her mother’s arm. “Mom?”

     Margo still hadn’t spoken. She looked about to pass out, but she still stood.

     “Where do you hurt?” Jay asked, though he didn’t try to touch her again.

     Margo shook her head. What the hell was wrong with her?

     “Should I call someone?” Jay asked.

     She shook her head again, then left the room toward an area away from the kitchen.

     Jay knew he must have looked confused, because Deidre said, “Her bedroom suite is that way.”

     “Should I stay?” he asked.

     “No, I think something you said caused her reaction.”

     Jay thought about what he’d said. “You mean that I’m staying?”

     “Ah, guess she didn’t realize you retired. I don’t remember telling her.” Dee shrugged. “I figured you already had.”

     “No, your mother and I don’t have much communication.”

     “Is that why she was so startled when you picked me up on Electra’s birthday? Maybe you two could do better about communicating, now that you’re back. Do you ever write her? I don’t remember seeing a letter from you to her.”

     Jay didn’t know how to respond. He couldn’t tell her the last letters he’d written her ten years ago had been returned unopened, so he didn’t see the point in writing to her.

     “Daddy, you could email her.”

     “Not without her address. Besides, I’m here now and we’ll act like adults where Electra is concerned.”

     “And where I’m concerned, too?” She looked so eager and young and vulnerable, younger than seventeen.

     “Yeah, where you’re concerned, too.” He couldn’t tell the kid he wasn’t her daddy. She loved him, though he didn’t deserve her love.

     “Check on your mama. I’ll head out.”

Could I have been kinder to her? Of course! Is she in trouble now? Do you want to see how she handles the situation?

Blurb From Margo’s Choice

Margo’s Choice is a Southern Women’s Fiction story.

Margo Lake isn’t looking forward to seeing her ex husband Jay again. After 16 years of separation the marine still knows how to push her buttons. She has never stopped loving him, at least in some ways, though she really doesn’t like him.

When she learns he isn’t coming for a visit but is retiring, she fears what he can do to her heart if she lets him inside for even a second. Even more, she fears for the heart of her youngest daughter, the child who adores him, the child he doesn’t believe is his.

Jay has finally had his fill of war and danger. He is ready to retire and get to know his daughter better, be with his family. He wishes Margo would come clean and tell her youngest daughter he isn’t her father. Then he could forgive her lies and maybe they could all have honest relationships.

Cindy here!

Oh, she is not happy! I have to admin I have a hard time torturing my characters. I don’t like conflict. 🙂 You can check out Mary’s book on Amazon: Margo’s Choice. Check out Mary’s website at: http://www.MaryMarvella.com and www.pinkfuzzyslipperwriters.blogspot.com

Happy writing!


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