How to Know if Your Plot is Accessible to Readers

It’s party time! Remember that invitation you made last week? How did your story unfold?

Now it’s time to edit your piece. That’s right, this is an editing prompt. Here goes!

BYO . . . ?

You're Invited!

Review your story with the following question in mind:

What does the reader need to bring?

Some parties are bring yourself. Some are BYOB. Is your story a potluck for your reader? If so, there is work to be done. Your reader will always bring their own life context to a piece. They shouldn’t also need to bring an encyclopedia to know what is happening during character interactions, dialogue or exposition.

So, really think about this: What DOES your reader need to bring to get the most out of your story?

Specific knowledge of ant colonies? Previous experience with Mars research or NASA builds? Understanding of dyes and how they are made?

The idea here is to discover whether your story is accessible to your reader. Often, when we write we travel deep into our own minds, what comes out lacks the context our imagination or memories provide. Asking your story what the reader needs to bring to it in order to fully engage is a great way to reexamine your narrative for the purpose of editing.

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Shawna Ayoub

Shawna Ayoub is an essayist, fiction writer, poet and instructor with an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. Some of her work has been published in The Manifest-Station, Role Reboot, [wherever], The Huffington Post, The Oxford Review and Exit 7. Her writing explores the intersections of race, place and survivorship. She writes with honesty about her own experience in order to transform pain.

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