Are You Giving Your Readers What They Want?
by Joanne Troppello
What do readers want anyway? They want a spell-binding story that really draws them in so they can devour each page. At the end of the story, they should be left wanting to read more about your characters.
This may sound like a tall order but it is possible. Think of some awesome books you’ve read that have kept your attention and you didn’t want the story to end.
Key Ingredients to Include
Let’s break down what are some key ingredients to a spell-binding novel. First, you need compelling, believable characters. Your readers need to relate to these characters. If they don’t get to know them, they can’t relate.
How do readers get to know your characters well enough to relate to them? You need to write well-rounded characters. Dive deep into their point of view as you write their story. Never head hop in scenes and make sure that you allow your readers to fully embrace who these characters are.
1. Use Active Voice
For example, stay away from passive voice and utilize active voice. What sounds better to you?
She was running away from him.
Her heart pounded rapidly and the hair on the nape of her neck stood up as she ran from the intruder.
2. Show Don’t Tell
When your characters are going through an emotional struggle, how do you portray that? You’ve heard the saying, show don’t tell, well it is extremely important to let your readers in on what is going on in your character’s mind.
When writing a scene, you must only write from his or her perspective. For example, what does your character see, hear, taste, smell or feel. In one scene, you cannot jump from two different characters’ points of view. It confuses readers and does not make for a complete picture of who your character really is.
What sounds better to you?
Someone approached his desk but he focused on the file in his hands. When he glanced up, he saw her standing in front of him.
Marc Abrams heard the clicking of heels approach his desk, but he ignored the intrusion and focused on the file in his hands—until he smelled the familiar scent of jasmine and roses. Not wanting to get his hopes up, he glanced over and there she stood. She looked like a tall drink of water in the desert, with her slender physique and shiny hair and piercing eyes.
The first section tells what happens but doesn’t let the reader experience what Marc experienced. When you read the second section, you are right there with Marc as he heard someone approach and then smelled her perfume. You feel his excitement, hoping it’s her. Then you get to see how much this person affects him.
3. Write Compelling and Believable Dialogue
Telling a good story is also about writing compelling, believable dialogue. You need to write how the character would actually speak. Not everyone speaks in correct English. Make your dialogue become a work of art.
(This is an excerpt from my novel, Bella Lucia.)
She smiled. “You know, you always make me feel better.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Really, because that’s not the impression I’ve gotten from our last few encounters. I thought you couldn’t stand me.”
“You’ve grown on me.”
That brought uproarious laughter from him and his nervousness eased up a little. “Oh, like a fungus, easy to get and hard to get rid of—those words hurt, you know.”
The way she scrunched up her nose, endeared her further to him. “You remembered that, huh?”
“It’s not every day that a woman calls me a fungus!”
“You’re not like a fungus, just a little annoying at first.”
They settled down on the rock wall in front of the police station. “Ok, I can deal with that. I know my partner thinks I’m annoying too, but he has his own issues.”
“Don’t we all?” The distracted look came over her face again and he took serious note of it. Before he could ask what was on her mind, she shared her concerns. “I think my boss is keeping something from me.”
4. Keep Your Facts Straight
Remember to also keep your facts straight. Do your research. Readers don’t like to read a book that is full of mistakes. Don’t repeat the same word a lot in your paragraphs. Just try to remember all of these rules to make your story come alive and have fun. Write and write and write and then don’t put editing on the backburner. Editing is essential to putting your best work out there.
What is one of the best books you’ve read lately? Please feel free to share and you’ll be entered in a contest to win a copy of my eBook, Mr. Shipley’s Governess.
About the Author
Joanne Troppello is a published author of 3 inspirational fiction novels and the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Pandora's Box Gazette.
She has experience as a freelance writer in topics such as marketing, retail marketing, health and wellness, internet and media, travel and lifestyle, website content, app recommendations, and content for blogs.