Authorial Intrusion – Readers Get a Dose from the Writer

image by PIRO4D

Authorial Intrusion as a Literary Device

In authorial intrusion, the author directly addresses the reader, intending to build a relationship with the reader on some level.

This literary device was popular until the 20th century. The movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), represents well-planned authorial intrusion as Ferris tells about his day off.

How to employ authorial intrusion.

I’ve put the intrusion in italics solely to highlight it for you.

  1. Give an opinion about a character or event.

    Couldn’t Bill rake faster? The debate team would blame him if Bill was late. Jack snatched the rake from Bill and piled up leaves. Bill watched.
    It was common knowledge that Jack could be impatient at times, and this was one of those times.

  1. Explain or inform readers on setting, characters, props, and plot and offer opinions throughout the story.

Cassie stealthily handed Ruth the bobbin. Bobbins are used in sewing machines to hold the thread that catches the top thread in the needle to make a stitch.

image by WerbeFabrik

3. Supply information that the point-of-view character couldn’t mentally or physically know.

Wendy had no energy to can peaches. Unchecked cancer cells inside her lungs were dividing to develop a second tumor.

 

  1. Tell readers about an upcoming event unknown to the character.

As Jack stretched his leg muscles, butterflies in his stomach jumped the official’s gun and raced in circles. In minutes, he’d collect his winnings and have the money to propose to Kate. You can imagine how devastated Jack will feel when he loses the race.

  1. Philosophize.

Tina interrupted the flow of her novel and told the reader her character was headstrong. She was no worse than other novice writers who disrupt the story to tell the reader something they could easily show from the character’s point of view.

Warnings.

Using authorial intrusion is difficult to interest today’s reader. It is more successful for children’s books.

image by elljay

For novels in which characters tell the story, the writer’s voice is a definite intrusion and pulls the reader out of the story. The reader may be identifying with a character, then is suddenly in a one-sided conversation with the writer. The reader doesn’t know whom he should identify with—the character or the author.

Remember, in first-person narrative the character should give thoughts, opinions, and observations that belong to him, not to the narrator.

Author Intrusion: Unintentional Weak Writing

Sometimes, writers slip into their stories. I imagine the character looking up and saying:

“Author, did you mean to interrupt my leap off the truck? Was explaining that my jump was a bad move because I had broken my ankle five years ago necessary? I was just about to hit the ground, roll, and then duck into the roadside ravine before the driver sees me. Now you’ve distracted the reader from my cool move. Are you so jealous of my relationship with the reader that you must call attention to yourself? How about letting me tell my story? Don’t you agree, Reader? It’s just you and me until the end.”

Is authorial intrusion on your agenda or does it sneak into your writing? Click to tweet.

Which do you prefer: intimacy with the hero/heroine or with the author through authorial intrusion?

50 Ideas for Author Newsletter Content

image by Maialisa
image by Maialisa

Enlist Outside Help

1.  Interview an author in your genre.

2.  Post readers’ contributions (reviews, a book-related how-to, or their takeaway from yours or other authors’ books).

Employ By-Products

3.  Share handouts from your speaking engagements.

4.  Include book research and photos.

image by Unsplash
image by Unsplash

Provide Your Perspective

5.  Discuss hobbies, places, or events you enjoy.

6.  Share helps that have made your life easier.

7.  Recount your experiences at book events.

8.  Give your thoughts about the writing industry.

9.  Introduce your team; provide short bios on your agent, editor, etc.

Help Subscribers Get to Know You

10.  Write fun facts about your writing process.

11.  Relate lessons you’ve learned from writing a book.

12.  Recount personal experiences that appeared in a book in some form.

13.  Give subscribers a slice of your life as a writer.

14.  Include a photo of your writing space.

15.  Share writing milestones: signing an agent, book contracts, book releases, book awards.

16.  Share life milestones: marriage, new baby, educational degrees (best to post only milestones for personal information).

17.  Add a specialty corner: writing tips, book-related recipes, historical facts, gardening tips—anything you have expertise in.

image by Comfreak
image by Comfreak

Pique Interest in Your Books

18.  Reveal a book cover design.

19.  Share the story behind the novel’s story.

20.  Tell what sparked book locations, plots, or characters.

21.  Report writing progress on novels.

22.  Provide a sample chapter or excerpts.

23.  Print a deleted scene.

24.  Note outside news or events related to topics in your book.

25.  Pass on endorsements, a quote, or a discussion about your book.

26.  Discuss social themes associated with your book.

27.  Display book trailers.

Highlight Your Characters

28.  Impart supplemental information about your characters.

29.  Add character photos.

30.  Hold character interviews—discuss issues your character faced.

31.  Enlist a character to host the newsletter post.

32.  Reveal the expanded backstory you used to develop a character.

image by geralt
image by geralt

Dazzle Subscribers

33.  Include images, artwork, and personal photos.

34.  Offer interesting quotes.

35.  Drop clues throughout the issue that’ll solve a puzzle.

Keep Subscribers Returning

36.  Offer installments of short stories or multiple aspects on the same subject.

37.  Involve subscribers in surveys.

Invite Subscribers to Your Events and Specials

38.  Announce book signings, speaking engagements, and other events with detailed attendance information.

39.  Direct subscribers to articles you’ve recently published.

40.  Alert subscribers to promotions, special pricing on your books, and when pre-ordering is available.

image by zimnijkot0
image by zimnijkot0

Become a Fellow Reader

41.  Feature book reviews of others’ books.

42.  Tell what you’re currently reading.

43.  List your favorite books.

44.  Ask what subscribers are reading.

45.  Request and publish subscribers’ nominations of the best book in your genre.

 

Give away Freebies

46.  Offer giveaways—yours or others’ books in your genre, gift cards, or book-related goodies.

47.  Create a contest.

Include Helps and Links

48.  Add a table of contents (lengthy newsletters).

49.  Insert links to blog, website, Amazon and Goodreads author pages, and reviews.

50.  Display social media links.

Try these 50 suggestions for author newsletter content. Click to tweet.

What have you used successfully in your newsletter?

Point of View: Deepen Your Scene as You Employ It

image by geralt
image by geralt

Through two examples, I’ll show how employing point of view can enrich a scene as readers experience the setting, characterization, plot, and story theme.

I’ll use the same elements for each example.

   Character: Clara Hill, a twenty-three-year-old woman.

   Theme: A first-time teacher learns to reach and help her students.

   Setting: Classroom.

   Scene Plot: How Clara handles her first day of class.

Example 1 

Principal Edwards introduced Clara to the class then headed for the door.

He was leaving her so soon—with the black boy wearing unlaced combat boots and sitting in the last row, tying knots in the blind cord? And with the white pregnant girl, sitting in front chewing gum? Or was that tobacco?

Clara scurried to the teacher’s desk, putting the bulwark between her and the class. Seven columns and six rows of one-armed student desks. And all of them filled with lounging teens. Eighty-four eyes bearing down on her, sizing her up, following her every movement.

image by PublicDomainPictures
image by PublicDomainPictures

She grasped the English textbook with both hands. Anything to steady her trembling fingers. As she opened the book, her number-two pencil fell from its pages, rolled off the desk to the filthy terrazzo floor, and stopped at the mud-encrusted wader of the boy with one lazy eye.

She glanced at the boy. Wasn’t he going to pick it up?

“You dropped your pencil,” he said, one eye on her and the other on the pencil.

What happened to raising one’s hand to speak? And since when was a teacher expected to handle a class of forty-two miscreants? [Scene continues.]

Example 2

Principal Edwards introduced Clara to the class then headed for the door.

Clara ran her gaze over the students as she waited until the metal door clicked shut. A motley bunch, but they’d do.

image by tdfugere
image by tdfugere

She strode to the wooden desk, plopped her rump onto the spot where a lovelorn teen had engraved, ‘LILY LUVS AL,’ and crossed her legs.

“My name is Clara Hill. Ms. Hill to you.” She nodded at the teen in the back. “You who can’t decide whether to open or shut the blinds, what’s your name?”

Sniggers rippled through the students.

The boy released the blind cord. “Emmett Crowe.”

“Thanks, Emmett.” Clara’s clog nearly touched the knee of the rosy-cheeked young lady on the first row. She smiled at the girl. “What’s your name?”

“Annabel Grubbs.”

“How far along are you, Annabel?” Maybe Clara should have taken a birthing class instead of CPR.

More sniggers.

Annabel giggled, displaying brown teeth. “Thirty-four weeks.”

“My guess is you’ll miss the first unit test.” [Scene continues.]

 

Through point of view:

  1.  Clara is fearful and judgmental

OR

    is bold and direct.

2.   Clara sees 42 occupied chairs, skin color, filth, and miscreants

OR

     sees individual students, fidgeting, pregnant, and infatuated with “AL.”

3.   The way Clara handles her first day drives what needs to happen to satisfy the novel’s theme that Clara will reach and help her students (plot).

Perhaps, Clara changes her outlook and relationships with her students

OR

fights the community for the students’ good.

Put point of view to work for characterization, setting, theme, and plot. Click to tweet.

How have you put point of view to work in a scene?