So I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the reading I’ve done lately. While it hasn’t been as much as usual, mostly due to the amount of writing I’m doing, I still occasionally get to read a book or two. I’ve tried to read self published authors, whether they are best sellers or not, and if I haven’t found any that catch my eye, I download a free one in the hopes that someone’s writing will entice me enough to read it all the way through. While I have run into a few that I have finished (Sweet Dreams by Aaron Patterson, Eerie by Blake and Jordan Crouch) I’ve run into a ton that I just can’t finish.
One thing I notice in the books that I cannot finish, are basic things. Not the beginnings, although sometimes thats it. Most of the time though, its the lack of white space.
So what’s white space?
Whitespace is the amount of space you see on the page. It’s also the amount of indentations from paragraphs. Now, I’m not one of those guys who has to have every sentence a paragraph, (which sometimes seems to be the norm) but I do like a fair amount of paragraphs. More paragraphs make the reading easier. You can bite off a page in little chunks, you don’t have to read through a whole wall of text to get to an end of a page. Lots of little endings endings make it easier for the eye to see and read. Don’t believe me? try it for yourself. Go find a couple of your favorite books and see how much white space is in it. Eerie, for me. Or maybe something by Dean Koontz, if you want a big six example. Also, find one of your favorite books that has walls of paragraphs in it. You know, the kind of book that only has two paragraphs on the whole page. Robert Jordan, The Wheel Of Time series. That guy (may he rest in peace) wrote so many pages and pages that had only a single paragraph, maybe two, that it was hard not to skim.
Which brings me to my other point, Internal dialogue.
I love internal dialogue just as much as the next person. It’s good, because when you’re not holding a conversation, your character is still moving. Thinking, beating himself up verbally, whatever. The bad thing is when your conversation goes something like this:
“It didn’t take long, but I finally beat her in a game of golf,” he said.
Allen thought about it for a moment, about all the times he’d tried to beat her at golf, but couldn’t. He wondered how long it would take him to do it. Could he do it in a matter of minutes? seconds? How long would a game with the Greatest Golfer In The Universe Last? And would he be able to do it without his secret weapon, The Lightest Most Best Ball In The World ™? Who knows, He thought to himself. I wonder though, if it would matter in the long run. I’d still get to laugh in her face. Maybe, he thought, I could not only use my Lightest Most Best Ball In The World ™ , but I could also use my Super Club of Stamina ™. Maybe, that would allow me to drive it all the way to the whole without ever hitting the ball more than once.
“Good for you,” Allen said.
Shitty example, but you get my meaning. By the time you get through several paragraphs of the inner workings of who’s ever turn it is to talk, you’ve forgotten what the conversation was about in the first place.
I try not to have really long paragraphs in my work. At the very least I try to break it up. A few long, some short, but white space is important. If I pick up two books that are the same price, the first lines hook me, great covers etc, the next thing I look at is how big are the paragraphs. If it looks like it’s gonna be a chore to read, it probably will be.