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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Meanwhile, Back at the Manor...

Doing some work on "Treasure of Mongan Manor" this morning, feeling my way through introductions to the people who live in or are visiting the manor. I don't want to bring in too many people at once, though, because that can be confusing to the reader. It's an odd thing a writer has to remember: while the story and its players are perfectly clear in your head, the reader will know nothing in advance of being told about it. Each introduction of a character must tell something about them, provide some reason for them taking the spotlight, however briefly.

Will there be a murder at Mongan Manor? Probably. There's a family fortune, a buried treasure, and a secret in the offing, any of which could be the motive for a murder. Some might want to solve the secret, and some might want to keep it under wraps. Some believe in the treasure and some don't. I haven't given any insights to the inheritance as yet, but I'll be toying with it soon enough. One motive at a time.

I also caught a problem earlier. Working from the family tree I drew up, with all the nice Irish names applied to several generations of family members, I realized in the writing of the current introductions scene that I had one character named Marla and another named Moira in the same room together. The names are just too similar. Marla then became Alma. It's that old closure thing. People don't read every letter or even every word placed before them. There are lots of examples of the phenomenon circulating on the web, where even though  the letters are in the wrong order, maybe even interspersed with numbers, as long as the first and last ones are correct, most people are able to read it. The study of human psychological development calls that closure. So if a reader is speeding along at a good clip, having two such similar names could be confusing. As my publisher says, one of the cardinal rules for an author is never to confuse your reader.

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