. . . 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 that 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.
Techniques for Increasing Immediacy
Cutting Author Intrusion
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 flagrant “info dumping” whenever possible; thread info into the story in ways that would naturally and realistically occur
- Avoid “Fore-Telling” (aka “portent bombs”)–typically chapter ending sentences that give away plot situations before they happen (often characterized by the lead-in phrase “little did she/he know that . . . “). These call attention to the writer and ruin the suspense for the reader. Let the story play out naturally. Allow the reader to worry about the characters; don’t prematurely relieve the reader’s worry for the character(s). Keep the suspense going.
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.