Organize your Writing like Target Shopping Center

Today visited Target to purchase ONE item, but of course we always check out the DVD section, in case they have a $5.00 one that might be a classic.   We waltzed in to discover a shiny remodeled store. 

Instead of placing the DVDs in the front like before, we had to meander through many other aisles before finding them at the back.  Of course winding our way through other brightly colored attractively arranged sections  reminded me those pretty blue placemats and bowls with clever tight-sealing lids I couldn’t live without.

Finally reaching the DVDs, I muttered, “I wonder why they put them all the way back here?”  My hands were full of this and that.  My husband’s hands were too. 

He looked down at our stuff and said, “Gee, I WONDER why?” 

Duh.  Target wanted us to wander around and take our time see what they had to offer.   

Do this in your writing, too. 

Make your reader go deeper in your novel to find what they are looking for.  The answers shouldn’t be out there right away, easily discovered.  That’s no fun!  It’s more intriguing if the reader has to dig, search, and wander around a bit to find out what is going on.

No matter if you are 9 or 90, writing for kids or adults, a short story or a novel, your first page should place a question in the reader’s mind, begging them to turn that page and wander on for more. 

I picked up a used copy of Mary E. Pearson’s young adult novel, The Adoration of Jenna Fox, flipped it open, and saw the previous owner’s name in the cover. 


Turning to the first page, I read the first several lines of the book.  (A book I’ve previously read and loved, btw.)

I used to be someone.

Someone named Jenna Fox.

That’s what they tell me.  But I am more than a name.  More than they tell me.  More than the facts and statistics they fill me with.  More than the video clips they make me watch. 

On the side of this paragraph, Nicole had written in pencil, Why do they make her watch them?

I love the way Nicole reads.  She has comments sprinkled throughout this book written in pencil.    Some are questions about what the character’s motivation is, what a word means (followed by the definition after she looks it up) and others are her personal predictions of where the story might be going.  If she likes a moment in the book, she’ll underline it and writes thought that was nice

The best part about Nicole is how she makes a personal connection to the story.  She’ll write:  connection:  My grandparents always try to get me to eat more, when Jenna’s parents try to get her to eat when she doesn’t want to. 

That’s what it’s all about, really.  Connecting with our readers.  Mary Pearson did that with her story and Nicole. 

It’s your turn.   You can do it yours and your readers too.

Point 1. Make sure you have a sense of mystery and suspense in your story.  Ask yourself, where can I take out some information and tease the reader with bits of clues instead?

Point 2.   Read like a writer.  Like Nicole!  If it’s YOUR book, write comments in the margins.  Critique it like a writer.  How did the writer get you to feel the way you do?  If it’s not your book, place a stack of post-its in the front of the book.  Post a note where you love the passage for later study.

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No Responses to “Organize your Writing like Target Shopping Center”

  1. Joanne says:

    When a writer makes a reader “wander around” and “go deeper,” is there a risk of losing the reader’s interest? I suspect many hours are spent discussing the layout of a Target store to maximize product visibility without confounding shoppers to the point they leave empty-handed and frustrated. A writer needs to keep the same concern in mind when creating a sense of mystery and suspense.

    • lizbooks says:

      You bring up good points! It will work to wander around in your draft because you can find ideas you may have never discovered before. You might strike gold! But in your final draft, you will make sure that every word counts to your main idea/theme. As long as you create suspense/conflict on every page, your reader will stay right along with you.

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