Stop Beating

“Could it think, the heart would stop beating.” – Fernando Pessoa

Today in my English class we talked about the implicit promises writers make to their readers… these promises act as hooks, or mini-crises that build up the tension to the climax or sub-climax of the plot.

In romance, we begin our stories with a promise. At the beginning, we have two people who may or may not know one another. One thing we do know is that whether they know it or not, they will grow to care for one another, and we get to watch that process. It’s the fun part of love.

If this promise isn’t fulfilled, whether with a twist, or unexpectedly, we are left with a sense of disappointment and often anger. We discount the entire work as a waste of time.

As writers, sometimes we forget the promises we’ve made to our readers. We ignore the initial hook of the story, or never complete that subhook which made them turn the page to the next chapter.

Draw your readers in. Speak to their hearts rather than making them think through your plot. Once you drop a promise and confuse the reader, you’re destroyed the suspension of disblief and made them think again. As Pessoa claims, if the heart is made to think, it might stop beating.