Killing Your Audience Members Really Keeps Them Engaged

From Australian Sci-Fi to Music, Making Readers and Listeners Part of the Narrative Is an Underutilized Tool

One of the most common pieces of advice given to new writers is “Kill your darlings.” The Australian writers Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman have turned this advice on its head. They’re not interested in killing their darlings, but they have become very interested in killing their audience.

In 2015, Kaufman and Kristoff published Illuminae, a sci-fi novel they’d spent the past few years working on. If you haven’t read it, you really should. It’s possibly the most startling, innovative book released this century: an epistolary narrative told through transcripts …