This week’s video explains how interrupting, apologizing, and preaching are three gaffes writers can’t afford to make.
Video Transcription: Fiction is a tremendously powerful medium for sharing viewpoints and changing mindsets. Authors should never be afraid of writing about the subjects and causes in which they are passionately interested. But we also need to realize that nothing turns an audience off faster than the Three Mortal Sins: Interrupting, Apologizing, and Preaching. Often we’ll find all three of these sins walking hand in hand, and if we can stamp out one of them, we can often kill all three.
In a classic novel—which shall remain unnamed—we find an excellent example of how the Three Mortal Sins can bring your story to a screeching halt. Halfway through this book, about prosaic country life in 19th-century Derbyshire, the author commits the first of her sins by interrupting her story with a chapter that first makes an apology and defense of a character she fears her readers will find “little better than a pagan,” then uses the opportunity to preach her views at the readers for a further ten pages.
Whether individual readers agree with the author’s points or not is irrelevant, because very few will appreciate having their story interrupted by a sermon. The best—and, arguably, only—way to share moral, political, or social views with your readers is to allow your story to carry them organically. The moment you decide to interrupt your story to insert information that doesn’t directly move the plot forward is a moment in which you’re going to be trying your readers’ patience. Not only are they unlikely to be receptive to hearing your opinions, they’re also going to take some serious convincing to keep reading.
Tell me your opinion: Have you ever been guilty of one of these mortal sins?
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Story by K.M. Weiland