exploring in detail what exactly makes a book work. Inside, you’ll have the defining pieces to take with you.
What makes a great book? You have, of course, your awesome books, which you’ve likely enjoyed to the letter. Daring sword fights between sworn enemies; steamy romances–these are just a few things you might have come across. The potential is ALWAYS there for a book to inspire greatness and wonder in millions of minds that flip the pages to ‘find out what happens”.
Sadly, we’ve also read some books that were not even close to their true potential. Clusters of ill-conceived ideas, mangled sentence structure and the lack of a plot can all make you shut such a book at a moment’s notice.
Would you like to know what makes me cringe? I was recently asked to read someone’s work that they had been promoting for months. The anticipation of beholding the first chapter and tearing into it like a medium-well steak made my blood boil with excitement. Soon, it would be upon me like a theif in the night, on top of me like the roof over my head.
I could stand it no more. The hype had driven me mad. The day came when the first chapter was ready for hungry eyes and I greedily snapped it up like a fish on a hook, eager to taste what could very well be the “Next Big Thing”.
My jaw dropped. Months of waiting on this first piece of narrative made me want to cry inside. I was at a loss for words. Run-on sentences, boring plot, horrendous grammar errors displayed for the world to see– I wanted to vomit.
Truth of the matter is, I love what I do. While I do it in my spare time, I consider it more of a career than a stupid little hobby I occasionally find time for. When someone writes garbage like this, it’s like they just don’t care. Words on a page, that’s all they are.
The problem with this line of thinking is this. If you’re just spewing dirt across the page, people aren’t going to waste their time with your work. In fact, they’re more likely to never read or purchase (That means BUY!!) any of your future work!!
I’ll try to be short and sweet on this. You need to show me the reason why I’m bothering to read your content. Is this an original piece? Does it make sense? Several things on the example I spoke of earlier stood out, which I’d like to expand on. It was about an alien race taking over the earth. If I’m being honest, I yawned.
The concept is nothing new, but if written correctly, it can be regarded as an “incredible book.” I always argue that people are capable of taking an overdone scenario and make it their own. Let’s explore just how.
Your plot is what propels your storyline. In my book Carnal Instinct, Becky has just broken up with Arnold because he’s moving 4 hours away. Somewhere in her heart, she realizes she is wrong, but it’s too late. He’s found someone else. And thus, begins her quest to reclaim ‘what is rightfully hers.’
Nobody likes cardboard characters. “Hello, Joey. How are you feeling?” This might be appropriate for a teacher to ask a student, but feels awkward if a third grader is speaking with a friend. Remove such awkwardness and if a character is constantly being challenged emotionally, socially and physically, (though not neccessarily all in each book per se) you should be on the road to greatness.
I promise you; when I see things like this, I close a blog and shut a book. “i thought it was cool when i went over too the rivver it was cold and weyt and i took a swim my best friend came over after school and had a snakk with me it was cool.” Disgusting and unprofessional.
Ten years from now, will I remember any of the content? What exactly was it that stuck with me? In my brand new book, GROUND, I’ve been told by various people how ‘messed up’ it is. They’ve given me examples of how their favorite scenes were acted out. The nice thing is, they have trouble choosing exactly the same scene. One might be the warden getting what’s coming to him, or finding out what’s going on in the prison. Whatever the case, make your readers nod in enjoyment.
Regardless of whether or not you’re writing a romance novel or a chunky gore horror story, keep in mind that you need to keep your reader entertained. With a movie, you generally have the first 5 or ten minutes to catch your viewer’s attention. With a book, it’s much harder to guage. Grab them from the first pages of Chapter One, and never let go.
Know your audience!
This is very important! Who is going to be reading your work? If it’s riddled with profanity and blood, I do hope you’re not shopping it to Scholastic. Seriously.
While it’s true the bad guy doesn’t always win, there are many different options to explore. Does the bad guy get the girl? Does the hero get killed at the end? Make it interesting and make us drop our jaws when our hero does something you would have never imagined.
Thank you for reading my tips on what (to me) makes a great book.