Vicarious Experience (Story Engineering and Physics #11 of 12)

Part of a series of posts on story engineering based on the book of that title and its companion volume Story Physics.

Story Engineering & Story PhysicsIf your book makes me feel like I’ve participated in an experience I could never have in real life, but wish I could, it’s the single greatest indicator of whether I’ll read more of your work.

That’s both a blessing and a curse.

Blessing, because I’ll forgive all kinds of things from illogical plot developments to thinly-developed characters if, in the end, you took me on a ride I wanted to take.

Curse, because there are so many things that can yank me out of the magic place we’ve gone together, and suddenly, instead of fleeing thugs down a dark alley, I’m reading a book with a confusing or misworded sentence. Instead of having a chat with a flying unicorn, I’m reading a pointless description of how to shoe a flying unicorn.

Everything we’ve talked about up to this point helps in building your reader’s vicarious experience. Your concept and premise. Characters and writing voice. Appropriate pacing and tension. Just as it would take rooms full of equipment and endless planning to create a simulated but realistic space flight, you need to build this vicarious experience from the ground up. Do everything you can to contribute to it. Do everything you can to avoid breaking the spell.

This may also be the tightest connection between your writing and your marketing. Your perfect reader will be someone who’s looking for exactly the vicarious experience you offer. Know what that is, base your marketing on something that vividly describes how your readers will feel when they finish your book, and the right readers will come find you.

If you enjoy the posts in this series, please do me a favor and buy Larry’s books. This blog is free, of course, but I couldn’t be teaching you these things without Larry’s writing and blog. The $25 it will cost you to buy the books will be more than repaid by the information you get from them.

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