Tuesday, October 1, 2013

6 Basics to Make Your Book Successful

Have you ever started reading a book which you simply had to put down after the first twenty pages? Have you ever returned a library novel without having flipped past chapter one?

It does not happen too often that I have to put down a book without reaching the end. However, not everyone is willing to hang on as long as I do. Therefore, in order to write a novel that will resonate and capture your reader until the very end, make sure it does not miss the boat in any of the following departments:

1. Tension
You'll often hear to start your novel with action, but more importantly is to start with tension! (What good is action if it has no context and the reader simply doesn't care?) Tension will draw the reader in and want to read on.
2. Use Cliffhangers
Just like starting with tension, make sure you end with cliffhangers. If you end each chapter with an unanswered question, the reader will want to read on - no doubt! Without cliffhangers, why would they even want to continue? Want to learn how to make the best cliffhangers, click here. 

If you don't have interesting and compelling characters, why would anyone even want to read your novel? Readers want to connect with your personas and feel like their conflict matters. If everything seems flat and unrelated, nobody will understand your character, and they'll simply put down the book.
Think about novels you have read in the past: In Harry Potter, for example, what drove Harry to fight Voldemort? Or in The Hunger Games, what drove Katniss to involve herself in the games? What did she want during the games? How did she go about achieving this?
4. Obstacles
Give your character obstacles (their want might be to overcome this obstacle). A story is much more interesting if a character is simultaneously fighting to overcome her poor self-conscious, her drug addiction, or her abusive father. Readers will be able to connect with the character and become more interested in the novel. They'll also start to ask themselves: Will she/he be able to overcome this obstacle? and thus want to read on to find out!
5. Know your audience
Depending on whether you are writing a picture book, a crime novel or an erotic romance, know your audience. Different genres are told in different ways - children's books will use simpler language, humor novels will use interesting wordplays, adult novels will be more sophisticated, etc. People will be expecting these differences, and if you don't live up to these expectations you will not satisfy their needs.
6. Avoid Flat Characters
Many authors fall into the trap of making their characters flat. The protagonist is always good and perfect, has an amazing life, does all the right things... yawn. Boring! The antagonist is purely bad, does all the wrong things, is simply twisted in all he does and says... Stop. A novel can be so much more interesting if the protagonist has flaws he/she is looking to overcome during the course of the story. Or if the antagonist has some sort of humane characteristic that sets him apart from all the other villains. People will only be interested in your work if it is unique from all the other things they have read (why would you want to read the same thing over and over again?)

Study the 100 best fiction characters and see what makes them so interesting.

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