Encourage your readers to buy your book. Use backloading.
Backloading isn’t about the weight of your backpack or the curvature of your derriere. Nor does it have to do with carbs or Australian furniture removal. It’s a writing term for creating sentences that end with power, paragraphs that end with power, scenes that end with power.
I could have said, “Backloading is a writing term for creating sentences that end with powerful words.” Do you see the difference?
Let’s compare the two.
1. Backloading is a writing term for creating sentences that end with powerful words.
2. Backloading is a writing term for creating sentences that end with power.
In the first example the sentence ends with words. The second example ends with power. Which ending delivers more impact?
When a reader gets to the end of a paragraph, she pauses before moving on to the next sentence. Take advantage of that pause. Create an image or a feeling that leaves an impression.
Here are examples from three well-known authors.
#1 – In her novel Spellbound Nora Roberts writes,
“Calin shifted restlessly in sleep, turned his face into the pillow. Felt her there, somehow. Skin, soft and dewy. Hands, gentle and soothing. Then drifted into dreams of cool and quiet mists, hills of deep, damp green that rolled to forever. And the witchy scent of woman.”
Calin feels a female presence in his dreams, dreams that shift to green hills. Ms. Roberts could have ended that paragraph with the green of the hills. She could have added more description of the countryside. Instead, she returned to the female presence, a witchy female. She anchored that feeling in the reader’s mind. She ended the paragraph with the word woman.
#2 – The first paragraph of Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden ends as follows:
“But the truth is that the afternoon when I met Mr. Tanaka Ichiro really was the best and the worst of my life. He seemed so fascinating to me, even the fish smell on his hands was a kind of perfume. If I had never known him, I’m sure I would not have become a geisha.”
Look at the last sentence again. “If I had never known him, I’m sure I would not have become a geisha.” Now read, “I would not have become a geisha if I had never known him.” Both sentences say the same thing. But which one is more effective? Images of kimonos, fans, tea ceremonies come to mind from that one word—geisha.
#3 – The last example comes from The Postmistress by Sarah Blake. The main character, a writer, poses a question about a postmaster during WWII who tampers with the mail. Her dinner companions debate the topic. Then the author writes,
“The lark had ended. The host rose abruptly to uncork another bottle. The woman down at the other end of the table studied me, still unconvinced that I could be telling her the truth. Writers. They are not to be trusted with our hearts.”
Ms. Blake could have written, “Our hearts are not to be trusted to writers.” But the word writers carries little emotion. There’s much more emotion in the word hearts. A story set in WWII is bound to be rife with turmoil. Terror. Tragedy. What emotions does Ms. Blake capture with that one sentence about our hearts? What about anguish, despair, despondency? What about forgiveness?
All paragraphs are different. Not every paragraph will end with emotion or strength. Pay attention to the flow. Look for the theme of the scene. Look for the mood. If you’re writing about love, leave your reader with romance, tenderness, devotion, passion. If you’re writing about murder, talk about slaughter, crime, darkness, blood.
Do you see how I backloaded the previous paragraph? I ended some sentences with the words strength, mood, passion. Then I ended the paragraph with blood. A word full of emotion, full of power, full of intensity.
Go through your writing and see what you can change. The rephrasing may not be easy, but the results will be worth the effort.
Make your last word count. Your readers will love your passion.
**Note: Backloading is a term coined by Margie Lawson, who specializes in Deep Editing and power writing. For more information on upcoming classes, visit www.margielawson.com.