Immediacy

 

. . . In Third-person Limited and First-person Point of View Stories

Some of the best fiction written has a strong sense of "immediacy" which keeps readers so immersed in the story that they find it hard to put the story down.

What is this "immediacy"?

"Immediacy" refers to those characteristics of writing which make readers feel they're directly experiencing what they're reading as if it were happening now.

Creating viewpoint characters the reader can--in some sense--identify with and getting the reader emotionally involved in the character coping withn his or her circumstances contribute a great deal toward achieving this immediacy. The remaining contribution to immediacy is via the use of various writing techniques.

For instance, cutting out Author Intrusion as much as possible is critical. To do that, you should strive to:

  • Minimize or eliminate speech tags in your dialogue
  • Not violate the viewpoint character's POV
  • Avoid "info dumping" whenever possible; thread info into the story in ways that would naturally and realistically occur

Other techniques that help increase immediacy are to:

  • Minimize the number of viewpoint characters in the story
  • Provide realistic details ("verisimilitude") in the milieu and in the behavior of the characters
  • Use strong verbs and nouns; they evoke more strongly
  • Use active voice in action scenes
  • Increase the pace in action and dialogue scenes.
  • Minimize or eliminate "filtering"
  • Provide "reasonable" description--description which focuses on what would naturally impact the viewpoint character under the circumstances he or she finds herself in, as opposed to describing what the writer wants or thinks it'd be nice for the reader to know (e.g., a Green Beret cutting his way through the jungles of Vietnam is more likely to react to sounds, smells, and visual stimuli that scream potential threat to him than he is to react to the variation in colors of flowers in bloom throughout the jungle).
  • Provide "to-the-point" dialogue--dialogue which strongly contributes to plot and/or character development.

Ultimately, it´s the proper balance of an engaging character, realistic milieu, intriguing plot, and various writing techniques which contribute to a story´s feeling of immediacy. If you can achieve a sense of immediacy, your readers will really like your story.

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Copyright 1998 Rich Hamper 

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Last Updated:

Sunday, January 20, 2008