TEXTURE can be defined as a “visual or tactical surface characteristic and appearance of something. To give a particular texture to impart desirable characteristics.”
Today I’d like to touch on three simple tips to lend visual “texture” to your story—creating an inviting appearance on the page that better enables the painting of word pictures in your reader’s mind.
1 - Build in white space for visual “texture” – Have you ever flipped through the pages of a work of fiction and been dismayed with page after page of unbroken blocks of text? You’re certainly no reading wimp, but it looks kinda intimidating, doesn’t it? Unfriendly. Boring even. Very likely you returned that book to the shelf or made the switch on your Kindle.
As authors we need to be aware of the visual impact of the story we’re writing, noting that a reasonable amount of visual white space on a page is more engaging than wall-to-wall words.
A year or so ago I decided to try a different format when drafting my books. It’s something I did as an unpublished writer (saved paper when printing to revise), but I’d gotten away from it the past nine years when required to submit in a publisher-preferred configuration. In MS Word, I formatted the manuscript as landscape rather than portrait and as two columns, setting the margins and font size to mimic two side-by-side pages of an open printed book
Below is an example of my first stab at it.
While readers of ebooks can change font size and thus how paragraphs appear on the screen, you could still do something similar in a standard ebook format to see what the impact might be, particularly if you’re publishing as ebook only. Give it a try and see what you think!
Amazingly, the format not only permitted me to remain aware of needed white space on a “printed” page—where to shorten paragraphs or weave in dialogue to break up a chunk of visually unfriendly text—but it also helped keep a more accurate eye on “real” scene and chapter lengths. It also converted easily back to standard manuscript structure for publisher submission.
Jo shook her head. “No.”
Jo smiled even though she didn’t feel like it.
Jo couldn’t believe her eyes.
Jo. Jo. Jo. One paragraph right after another. UGH.
Most paragraphs are at least several sentences long, and that’s when it’s especially easy to miss this repetition. (I’ve seen books with as many as 4 paragraphs in a row starting out with the same character’s name.) So “texture” the first lines of your paragraphs by varying how they start.
“No.” Jo emphasized the word with an adamant shake of her head.
She smiled even though she didn’t feel like it.
Unable to believe her eyes, Jo gasped.
3 - Add visual “texture” with a blend of dialogue - “Texture” your narrative paragraphs by breaking them up with a mix of dialogue. A reader’s eyes are drawn to those indented paragraphs and quote marks, to what the characters are saying. You don’t want a string of unattributed dialogue peppered all the way down a page, forcing a reader to “count back” to figure out who is speaking. But dialogue and its accompanying white space visually invite a reader to keep reading.
Can you think of a time when you put a fiction book down because it was visually uninviting? Are you aware of the importance of “white space” or is that something you as a reader and / or writer haven’t given much thought to? What tips can YOU share in our comment section today about adding visual “texture” to the paragraphs of your tale?
If you’d like to be entered in a drawing for a copy of my April Love Inspired release, Mountain Country Courtship (the final story in the 6-book Hearts of Hunter Ridge series) please mention it in the comments section, then check the Weekend Edition for winners!
GLYNNA KAYE treasures memories of growing up in small Midwestern towns--and vacations spent with the Texan side of the family. She traces her love of storytelling to the times a houseful of great-aunts and great-uncles gathered with her grandma to share candid, heartwarming, poignant and often humorous tales of their youth and young adulthood.
Mountain Country Courtship. After being jilted at the altar, the last place Denny Hunter wants to be is in his hometown. Yet he’s back in Hunter Ridge renovating a run-down old inn with the lovely Lillian Keene. He doesn’t know she’s a runaway bride—or that her niece has serious matchmaking plans. But in this Hearts of Hunter Ridge book, Denny and Lillian discover that the most important restoration starts with the heart. CLICK HERE TO ORDER.