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How to reward your audience for paying attention to your plot

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I’ll be writing about the video How much description should you put in your prose? How to reward your audience. How to write a satisfying book. SPOILERS – Buffy The Vampire Slayer, from the writing advice series I’m doing on YouTube with Jonathan McKinney.

If You Reward Your Audience Shows It Respect For Their Experience

When your reader or view is particularly observant they will notice the small details in your story. You can reward them by making those small details pay off later in a way that is really satisfying. It takes time and effort, but it’s worth it.

Taking the time to reward your audience in this way it’s a way of showing them that you respect them. You want to put the effort into making the story as satisfying as possible for them. It demonstrates that you are putting in time and attention to that story, designing it for their pleasure.

The small details you’ll use don’t necessarily have to be in your story, and if a reader misses them it won’t matter, because they story will still make sense. But if you DO notice, and you DO realise what’s been done with those small moments, it’ll improve your experience of the story a lot. You reward your audience by making their story experience better.

The Orb Of Thesulah

A good example to use for this is the Orb Of Thesulah in Season 2 of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

The first time we see the Orb Of Thesulah is when Jenny Calendar goes to the magic shop to buy one. She’s told that most people who shop there don’t any real magic, so they’re sold as new age paperweights. Jenny wants to use the orb to restore the soul of Angel, but he kills her before she has a chance.

Later, when Buffy and her friends want to perform the same spell, they say they need an Orb Of Thesulah. Giles reveals he already has one, and he’s been using it as a paperweight.

Small Moment, Made Bigger

This little beat isn’t super important to the plot, they could have either gone and bought one or just used the one Giles happens to own without that moment being harked back to. But by referencing it they are acknowledging to the audience that the know they remember, and that it matters that they remember. It also accomplishes a joke in a serious and painful story. Giles has always been the one with all the magic and knowledge, but is revealed to actually do the same as the fakes, which is funny.

If you don’t notice the joke, or don’t remember the conversation Jenny had had in an earlier episode, it wouldn’t ruin your experience of the story, and everything would still make sense. It is just taking the time to make those people who have remembered have a better time.

Reward Your Audience By Folding In

It’s often referred to as “folding in.” If your character needs anything at the end of the story, for any reason, go back during editing and fold it into the earlier part of your story. Or, if you write something into your story in the beginning, try and make use of it at the end of your story.

Taking the time and effort to do it is narratively satisfying, and rewards your audience for paying attention.

Ultimately, making your story extra satisfying is worth taking the time for. Acknowledging your audience and respecting them by making the effort is how to win over a loyal fanbase. You love your readers or your viewers, so respect them by trying as hard as you can to make it an enjoyable experience.

You can find more writing advice on our YouTube channel where we’ll help you become a better and more confident writer. If you have any writing questions, comment below and we will try to do a video for every question we get. If you’ve found my work helpful, please consider dropping me a tip in my Paypal tip jar to help me keeping bringing you free writing advice!

How to reward your audience, JJ Barnes Writing Advice
Click to buy books by JJ Barnes

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JJBarnes

I'm author, writer, screenwriter and filmmaker. I've always been passionate about stories, both on the page and on the screen, and now I'm lucky enough that I've been able to turn that passion into a career.

Myfirst novel, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit was the first release from Siren stories and launched the Siren Stories Universe (the SSU). Now there are multiple stories, on page and screen, all connected and exploring the world I first began to develop all those years ago. Find all my books here.

Hollowhood, the first independent film from myself and my writing partner, Jonathan McKinney, is currently in post-production. Making my own film has been an incredible experience and only affirmed my love of all things to do with film. From the camera to the costumes, I will always love everything about being on set.

As well as releasing my own stories, I'm hoping to spread love and passion for the art of story telling to others, by guiding you through different aspect of writing. I do a series of Writing Advice videos for adults, and a Creative Writing For Kids series, both on YouTube. I'm also releasing regular Writing Advice blog posts explaining different writing techniques and advice for how to get the most out of your writing experience.

Other than writing, my life is mostly spent with my partner, Jonathan McKinney, our three children, Rose, Ezekiel and Buffy, and our extremely foolish Springer Spaniel, Molly.

I love reading books, watching TV, and falling asleep during movies. When Jon comes to bed he usually finds me face down with my face on a book, or hiding under the duvet waiting for him to protect me because I've got myself in a dither reading a ghost story.

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