Clarity in the Confusion

There are a lot of situations where our characters might be utterly confused: dreams, hallucinations, surprise situations. While you definitely want to get that across in the text, what’s also important is making sure your reader has a decent grasp on what’s going on.

By describing the zany things going on around the character in a tone that reflects the character’s own feelings—whether it’s bewilderment or total acceptance of the goings on—you can ground the reader with a few concrete details about the surrounding. If the scene is rather lengthy, bringing up these details a few times can help keep your reader in scene.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to ensure your reader doesn’t get lost is to just occasionally say what you mean. Concrete sentences stating the facts, rather than vague metaphors and similes, can give your reader one foot in reality and on track. Purple prose in situations where the conditions are already unclear can lead to a lot of confusion, so try to avoid it in these situations.

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