Wednesday, April 14, 2010


RUE? Resist the urge to explain. An important rule for writers, but one I often forget, especially when I’m beginning a new story.

I watched a movie on television the other night and was somewhat confused throughout the first half. The director layered scene after scene that appeared to have little bearing on the overall story.

By the end of the flick, I realized the seemingly random scenes foreshadowed or introduced or provided necessary information that played into the resolution and were, in fact, key elements in the development of the story.

The director knew what he was doing. Unable to use introspection or author intrusion, he moved the movie forward with a string of scenes that provided the foundation upon which the second half of the film was built.

Usually, I add too much information at the beginning of a story, at least, in the first draft, which probably stems from an attempt to convince myself that I know where the story’s headed. Later, I get out the carving knife and cut the beginning down to the bare bones.

RUE! Something I need to remember.

Happy writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

KILLER HEADLINE, Book Two in the Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense Continuity Protecting the Witnesses and winner of the Gayle Wilson Award, now available in large-print hardcover.


Vince said...

Hi Debby:

Are these writing rules (e.g. RUE) ever cleared with readers? Or are they just writers talking to other writers?

While I don’t want things over-explained, I do want to be ‘oriented’ into the story as soon as possible. I like it when the first chapter starts with a headstone.

New York City, Spring, 1942

I just read five pages of a novel thinking it was a contemporary story only to discover it was taking place in 1942. I was not happy with this. (It was an eBook without a back cover blurb to read.)

I have a reader rule for writers: DBC – don’t be cute. What do you think? Should there be reader’s rules for writers? It’s something to think about.


PamelaTracy said...

I'm with you, Vince. I don't mind a little bit of background, that goes for character description too. I was reading one book about cops and there was a cop named Chris. I was halfway thru before I realized Chris was female. Ruined the book for me and I never bought another by that author.

Debby Giusti said...


I agree that anchoring the reader in the story is extremely important. I've judged contests where a manuscript began as if it took place in current times. Pages later, I learned it was actually an historical setting. That upsets me, just as it does you.

A writer can take RUE to the extreme, which isn't good either. But today's reader doesn't want page after page of backstory at the beginning of the book. They want to jump into the action and start that exciting race to the finish.

Love your DBC! Readers don't want to be fooled or tricked. A famous author I enjoy reading gave his heroine a special skill that I thought for sure would be used in the climax, but the author never drew from that great ability he had given her. I felt cheated and haven't forgotten the error, IMHO, that he made. In fact, as my comment proves, I'm still "talking" about it.

Readers are intelligent folks who deserve our best writing. That's why we need to remember that they "get" it. RUE is important, but should never cause confusion for the reader.

Thanks for stopping by today! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Pam,
You've got to wonder how that could have gotten by the editor!

Lynette Eason said...

Thanks for this great--and timely--post. I've been going back over an old manuscript (written about six years ago) that I thought might work for Steeple Hill, but as I'm reading through it, I can't believe all the backstory!! It would take a major rewrite to make it all gel. So, it's going in the trash. LOL. Oh well, it was a nice thought. Amazing how much I've learned since then!

And Debby, I think I read that book!