Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Susan J. Reinhardt: The Leaning Tower of Pisa Effect

Susan J. Reinhardt

My Mom broke her hip several months ago. She required surgery and extensive physical therapy. The muscles on the side she injured were weak, and they gave her exercises to strengthen them.

As she got better, she began getting around without using her walker or cane. Because the muscles were still not
strong, this caused her to lean to the right when walking and created a "Leaning Tower of Pisa" effect.

The therapist explained the necessity of using the cane when not using the walker to help her stand straight. By not using anything, she was training her muscles to continue the unsteady gait. This could lead to another devastating fall.

As writers, we can get into bad habits that will be hard to break. We're often told we must learn the rules before deliberately breaking them for some literary purpose. Why should we listen?

1.  Story instability—Head hopping keeps the reader off balance. They're forced to do a mental shift when the author should be switching those gears for them. I can almost see them tipping their heads to the side and saying, "Who's talking now?"

2.  Story dysfunctionI once read a book where the author introduced at least 20 characters on the first page. They weren't doing anything in particular. I tried to get through the first chapter, but finally gave up. A famous commercial once demanded, "Where's the beef?" In this case, I said, "Where's the story?"

3.  Story demiseWe get one chance to make a good impression on publishing professionals and readers. Blow that one chance, and it will take a lot to persuade them to pick up our work again.

No matter how much natural storytelling ability we have, it's worth the effort to learn the craft. Just like bad habits in life, incorrect techniques can be difficult to remedy once they're ingrained in our minds.

Writers:  Have you picked up any bad writing habits along the way? How did you re-train your brain?

Readers:  If a book doesn't grab your attention on the first page, will you continue reading it?

About Susan:

Susan J. Reinhardt began writing fiction after an experience in Gettysburg. Surrounded by history, she *heard* the voices of the forefathers as fading echoes. Eight months later, Susan and her late husband were discussing that event when he declared, "That's it! That's your book, and it will be written in four months and be called Ghosts of the Past." The first draft was written in four months and underwent a name change to Echoes of the Past. Later, it became The Moses Conspiracy. A stepmom, daughter, and follower of Jesus Christ—and most recently a widow—Susan enjoys reading, couponing, gardening, family time, and searching for small treasures in antique shops. Susan blogs at: http://susanjreinhardt.blogspot.com.

About The Moses Conspiracy:

In 2025, the Christian World is under attack!

Two seemingly unconnected events set in motion a diabolical plan. Ellie and John Zimmerman find themselves embroiled in a life-threatening investigation, fighting a shadowy enemy.

After a terrorist attack on Washington, D.C. in the near future, Ellie plans a trip with her young son, Peter, and they become separated. At the same time back home, John witnesses a buggy accident with unusual circumstances.

Caught between strained family relations and ominous warnings from a faceless enemy, the couple rely on God for wisdom and protection.

The truth of the past tragedy is revealed. While they may expose the culprits, will they survive the heartache it brings?

Purchase links:

Contact links for Susan:


  1. Thanks for having me on your blog today, Delia. I'm looking forward to meeting your readers.

  2. It's almost embarrassing to look back and see the writing mistakes we make as we learn. But so necessary!!

    1. Too, too true, Terri! I find it best for my peace of mind if I don't read my books "later," down the road a bit. I inevitably find something cringe-worthy. Lol

    2. Hi Terri - Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I started off as a non-fiction writer. When I read some of my early pieces, I don't want to tell anyone about them. :)

  3. The story must grab my attention in the first few pages. I hate to give up on a book, but sometimes I just can't get into it. Thanks for the great tips, Susan! Thanks Delia, for hosting!

    1. Hi Karen - In bygone days, I'd limp through a book even if I wasn't all that interested. Now, with a schedule tighter than a whale-bone corset, I can't afford to waste my time.

  4. I'm with you all the way. I might plow through a chapter, but no more than that. I'm a reader, not a farmer... :)