Immersing Readers in the Story World

Project Pea word count: 8,118

I’ve read a lot of good books lately that showcase how critical it is to immediately immerse your reader in the story world. But, as important as it is, it’s not easy to do – and I’m discovering that firsthand as I’m charging through the beginning of Project Pea (or rather, the fourth or fifth rewrite of it).

The simplistic part of us wants to simply explain the entire world to the reader and tell them how it all works. It’s uncomplicated and doesn’t take a lot of effort. The problem is that’s simply not interesting for a reader.

Readers aren’t looking for history textbooks about another world; they’re looking for a story. So yes, the world is vitally important, but in the sense that it needs to be a solid backdrop.

Like everything in a story, the story world is not meant to be explained – it’s meant to be experienced.

That’s why the quickest and most engaging way to introduce your story world is to have your characters interact with it, right off the bat. Don’t tell the reader how valuable a certain item is in the world’s economy; show them by having someone try to steal the item and get caught. Show the reader what the people in this world are like by having the main character talk to them. On the surface, showing almost sounds just as simple as telling—but it gets harder the more complex the story world is.

The answer is always to show, show, show, even if you have to create a little snippet of dialogue or a brief scene specifically for that purpose.

And remember, you don’t have to reveal the entire story world all at once. As the story progresses, so should the reader’s knowledge of the world they’re delving into. Give them knowledge little by little and keep them wanting more.

Behind every great book is a great story world that’s revealed not through an info dump, but through action. Let’s do the same with our stories, shall we?

Happy writing!
-E.J.


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Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash

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3 thoughts on “Immersing Readers in the Story World

  1. Showing does get more challenging the further you got in your story. It is important to rely on character interactions and details to show the world. I think your article does well in explaining the show vs tell rule. Thank you for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Getting Readers to Keep Reading | E.J. Robison

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