There is a science to writing. Since I started this blog, I often mention how I listen to the voices. The voices are the characters in my story, telling me what is happening to them, how they feel and what they plan on doing. The voices only play a part in my writing process. With every chapter I write, I must include certain elements to create a bestseller worthy novel.
I mentioned before and I’ll mention again that writing a story is more than just telling what a character is doing, because books are only good books if readers can get into the story and enjoy it enough to leave a review or tell someone about the book they’ve just read. This means to write a good book, an author must understand readers. To understand something, most times you have to study it, break it down. What authors should know is who their intended market will be for each book they write.
The demographics can get large. Books are bought every day by men, women and children. These readers are usually looking for something specific to read about. Men love books, but in my opinion, women love books more. And what women like to read is too wide of a display for an author to include in every single book. But there is one thing that the author must focus on and that’s the science of a good book.
So many times when I write each post, there’s so much I would love to share, but it will take too long. What I’m going to include in this thread are some of the basic things that all bestselling books have.
1. A character that is faced with a dilemma or challenge that takes them out of their normal routine of living. The dilemma is so challenging, the character doesn’t want to face this problem if they have to, but they must.
2. Events that makes the character more uncomfortable in their situation.
3. An antagonist trying to stop them from reaching their goal.
4. A face off between the character and the antagonist.
5. An ending that gives a resolution to what the character faced throughout the book.
These five basic things also only play a small part of writing. I hope this thread doesn’t dissuade anyone from tackling a new writing project. If you are a writer, be a writer. Sometimes writing is easier when you understand what you’re doing and what’s expected of you.
Here are few of the basic science parts of a book.
1. In every chapter and in every sentence of dialogue, the reader should learn something they didn’t already know. More of your plot is being revealed.
2. There should be moments in the book when the reader feels like the crux of the story is falling into place at such a level at their own understanding that the reader feels one with the story.
3. The beginning chapters, middle chapters and ending chapters have a different tone in regards to the arc of the plot. In the beginning, the reader cares about the character and feels like injustices are happening to the characters. Toward the middle of the story, the reader feels like the character, that enough is enough and it’s time to fight back and get some pay back. At the end there should be a feeling of triumph.
4. The flow of the story should read like a poem, sort of speaking. Don’t quote me on the poem reference, but it’s the only word I can think of at the moment. In other words, while reading the reader’s brain should read each sentence to the tune of a beat.
Today, as I was writing, I struggled with going over a chapter I had written, because as I read over it, I could see that the chapter stretched out too long. I needed to cut it down quite a bit. I knew I needed to stick to the focus of that chapter, because each chapter in a bestselling book focuses on one point that the reader should know to bring them closer to the plot. I needed to decide what I could take away and perhaps add somewhere else or cut away completely, while at the same time not changing the flow of the chapter or the book. I also needed to recognize if the reader will enjoy this chapter or if the reader will get put off and want to skip over a paragraph, etc.
The science of a book, I think, is the hardest part for any author, whether that author is huge or just starting out. Authors write books for readers. If we can’t write in a way that readers can enjoy it, the book won’t get read.
I have read many books during my life. I’m what you can consider an avid reader and an avid writer. When I first realized that I wasn’t using the winning strategies for a bestselling book, I actually took a lot of time to study bestselling books to learn WHY and how they became bestsellers. I took many notes and came up with a checklist. I refer to these notes and checklists whenever I’m in doubt. That’s what I did today.
I wrote a chapter that had nothing wrong with it. What I mean by that is it was a chapter, a good one. But while writing, we must strive to be our best at all times and on every page and sentence. Trust me. A reader can sense if they're just being given chapters as fillers or when an author has cut corners to get to the point.
What I noticed about this chapter is I had written it for myself and not the reader. An author NEVER wants to do that. Unfortunately, we are sometimes unaware when we have made this offense. Writing a chapter for myself can be done many ways, but in this particular chapter I noticed I focused on details about my story that I hadn’t yet shared with the reader, but twenty days into this book and I have reached a stage where what I add is crucial. So…I totally deconstructed this chapter and rewrote it for readers. I focused on tying some loose ends in the plot (this particular chapter would have done this anyway), but I wrote it stronger and in a way that I’m not just throwing information to the reader that they didn't know, like, ‘Hey, here you go!’ And rewrote it so the reader is still being entertained while finding out why certain things has happened to the characters before they’d gotten to this chapter.
To break down what I'm saying and what I've done today a little more, throughout the story I gave pieces of the plot. While giving pieces of the plot, I mentioned a few things but purposely left them dangling. At some part in the book, the reader must be told why these things happened. In example, one of my minor characters have been doing some hateful things to my main characters. This will cause the reader to question why is this minor character so hateful. I couldn't tell why in the beginning of the book because it would give away too much of the plot. Keeping them wondering until the right moment is a good way of hooking a reader to keep reading. Now I have reached the chapter where I'm explaining the intent behind this minor character's actions. I just can't throw that information out there. I also can't write it in a way that only I can appreciate. I have the readers hooked. I have their emotions going. I can't let them down now at this stage in the game.
I had to totally rewrite the entire chapter. This can happen sometimes. Don’t let it throw you off. Even when you think you have written an awesome chapter, read over it again with a critical eye. Ask yourself what parts you would appreciate more than your readers will, then cut away or rewrite those parts and make them fantastic. Even if you have to rewrite a chapter several times to get it right, do it. Because in the end, it’s better to have a chapter that a reader will love versus one they start and can’t finish reading or make them skip ahead to the next chapter.
I think I’ll talk more about the science of writing in another post. But until the next posting, keep writing! Don’t stop. Start that manuscript and get it completed.