How do I get my readers through the early, "hardship" part of my fiction?
A reader of one of my works told me, "It was very interesting, the last two thirds of it anyway." Her fear was that I might lose my readers in the first one-third of the work.The above work was a three act play, with a crisis and hardship in the first act, and characters that were "nothing special." Of course, they became "special" coming out of the hardship, and took off in the second and third acts.Another work is a teen novel about the romancing of the high school "science queen." (One purpose of the book is to convince girls that they are still datable if they take STEM courses). It takes the hero about four chapters (out of 12) to pull her out of the "laboratory," after which things are fine.Referring to published fiction, if the work were the "Wizard of Oz," how does avoid losing ones readers during the hum drum days of Dorothy's life with Aunt Em, and the farmhands in "Kansas," and the hardship caused by the sudden tornado? Once we get to the "land of Oz," I know what to do.So how do I keep reader's attention during the first third or so of the work long enough to get to the "good stuff?"
Hi there. Well done on all your hard work! I think this "draggy start" is a common issue. Writers can fall into this trap as they are too focused on "telling themselves the story" rather than lighting a fire under the reader. Your first chapters must have some meat that readers can sink there teeth into. If you start with a giant "info dump" readers will skim until they hit some action or (worse) simply give up. Really focus on drawing a rich picture of your character and their setting.Be descriptive. Spotlight quirks of personality or unusual elements of the setting that will keep readers engaged. Keep the pacing tight. Introduce dialogue. Have them confront their doubts/issues through inner monologue. Placing the "crisis" upfront is great, but don't allow momentum of this to fall off. Finally: trust your readers/audience! They are smart and will understand your main character has experienced months/years of "hardship" even if you convey that in a few paragraphs. Hope this helps--and good luck!