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Posted in books, characters, reading, romance, writing, writing advice, writing thoughts, writing tips

Crafting scenes that stick with your readers

What is a scene from a book or movie that has stuck with you? Why did it connect with you? For writers, recognizing and evaluating these scenes is a great learning experience!

There are several important elements to crafting an impactful scene:

concept-1868728_1920Purpose

Every scene should have a purpose (advance the plot, reveal something about the character, or provide information about the overall plot). The purpose should be able to be condensed into a one sentence summary. Scenes with no clear purpose are filler and should be cut or rewritten.

Point of View

A scene needs to be told from the most impactful point of view. Usually this is whoever is most impacted by the events of the scene. If emotion isn’t coming through in the scene, reevaluate whose POV it’s being told from. POV is often tied to the purpose of the scene: Who will learn the most? Who will change the most? Who will react more strongly? Who has the most to lose?

The High Moment

Scenes within a story should mimic the overall story structure: beginning, middle, climax, end. The high moment uses elevated emotion, action, or revelation to impact the character(s). The high moment should come at or near the end of the scene and it should be something that produces a reaction. The high moment reveals the purpose of the scene. The character should learn something, either about his or her self or the other characters, that affects their perception or choices.

Emphasizing Conflict

Every scene needs some form of conflict: inner, outer, or both. The conflict needs to have meaning, not be pointless arguing. Conflict should get progressively worse throughout the story, increasing the stakes. Keep this in mind while planning scenes and make sure there is an overall progression. Scenes with mostly inner conflict won’t be as explosive, but should increase the overall tension.

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Showing Character Development and Change

Every scene should demonstrate some form of character change. The change may be subtle, but it needs to show development and growth of the character, or show backsliding behavior. Whatever happens in the scene should have an impact on the character, eliciting change on some level. Change should match the character and the event. One character may see an event as not a big deal, while the other sees it as a huge problem. They need to react and change according to their perceptions.

Staying on Point

Scenes should leave out all the boring and non-important details. Life may be filled with the mundane, but scenes should not be. If the info, actions, or dialogue doesn’t pertain to the purpose of the scene, cut it. Start in the middle of a scene, with action of some kind, and leave out the movements in and out of the scene. Only insert backstory when it doesn’t slow the present scene.

Strong Beginning and Endings

The beginning and ending should not only be strong, but should be related in some way. This may be theme, symbolism, situational, a specific action or piece of information, etc. Tie the beginning and the end together in a meaningful way that relates to the purpose of the scene.

Adding Details

Find the right balance of details to create a full scene without bogging it down. Descriptive details should be pertinent to the action, help create mood and tone, or accentuate the dialogue. Details should use all relevant senses to create a full picture of the setting, the characters, and the emotion. Details should reveal something. A clenched fist shows anger, fidgeting conveys unease, food and clothing choices set the stage and reveal preferences, etc.

Evaluating Scenes

Whether you’ve watched Dead Poet’s Society or not (if you haven’t, you should!), this scene is a powerful one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j64SctPKmqk

What is one thing about this scene that sticks out to you? What impression does it leave and why?

Posted in books, characters, romance, writing, writing advice, writing thoughts, writing tips

Why chemistry between characters is key to connecting with readers

An important aspect of building story readers can connect with is developing great chemistry between characters.

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Chemistry is the emotional connection between characters, and it helps create a connection with the reader. It isn’t just about romances. All characters need to have some level of chemistry with the other characters in order to bring them to life.

Essential elements of creating chemistry include:

  1. A strong first meeting
  2. Bonding moments
  3. Conflict and dislike

Common romance chemistry tropes include:

  1. Opposites attract: provides instant conflict and a logical path of progression
  2. Forbidden love: may be true or perceived barriers; creates tension, desire, and conflict
  3. Love/Hate relationship: less realistic, but provides tension and a logical path to the climax; plays on the idea that love and hate are very similar emotions

Creating chemistry involves a balance between bonding and dislike

The balance between the two depends on the type of relationship (friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, star-crossed lovers, friends, family, estranged family or friends, etc.).

Bonding moments bring characters closer together and deepen their connection. Finding common interests, opportunities to help each other, moments of understanding, doing something unexpected for the other person, opening up about personal topics, etc.

Dislike is built with conflict (light and heavy). Competition, intellectual or moral disagreements, misunderstandings, lashing out, etc.

Bonding and dislike should escalate over the course of the story, with bonding generally having more progress (until the dark moment when dealing with main characters). Dislike will take over during crises, but a chance for bonding remains.

Creating realistic attraction develops more profound chemistry

This doesn’t mean no insta-love ever, especially if that’s going to be a source of conflict later when the character realize love at first sight doesn’t mean no problems, but the reason for their attraction should be believable.

Good looks aren’t enough. Being hot doesn’t prevent a person from being an asshole. Draw from personality, compatibility, intrigue, uniqueness…something that will last and create conflict later in the story.

Build realistic tension to increase chemistry

Tension can come in a variety of ways, including miscommunication, lies, secrets, arguments, moving too fast/slow, etc. The key is for these to be realistic and fit with the overall story. One rumor that’s never fact-checked or confronted and causes the MC to run away without looking back and fall into utter despair isn’t realistic and tends to frustrate readers. Especially if the MC is an otherwise strong and intelligent person.

If a point of tension can be fixed in less than a paragraph, it probably isn’t complex enough to be believable.

Create high stakes to build chemistry even higher

There should always be something that can completely ruin a relationship. This may be developed from page one or be a surprise two-thirds of the way through.

The risk that everything could fall apart, and both or one of the characters knows this, will affect everything they do and act as a constant reminder to the reader that they shouldn’t assume everything will turn out all right.

Movie vs. written chemistry

Working with video can have advantages over the written word, but sometimes the opposite is true. Consider how much more you can convey about a character’s internal thoughts and motivations through writing that is difficult to capture on film.

Here’s a funny example of how sharing a character’s internal thoughts on film makes for a really awkward romance scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIlHR2SWW9E

Can you think of any other movie relationship scenes that would have been better in writing?

Posted in books, writing, writing advice, writing thoughts, writing tips

How does narrative voice effect storytelling?

An important part of choosing the right narrative mode involves choosing what narrative voice to use.

Narrative modes are individual elements used to relay a story to the reader, and include:
Dialogue, action, description, exposition, thought and scene.

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Dialogue is the talk that is exchanged between characters. It is spoken communication and is punctuated with quotations. It shows personality, reveals information, and gives the reader insight about the character’s thoughts, worldview, and self-perception.

Action is events portrayed as they happen in a story. Action takes time to develop and happens in a specific place. Action is not a “report” or something that happened. It should be described “blow by blow” and not as a summary.

Description is details about how something, some place, or some person looks behaves or functions. Description should have purpose. It should develop setting, characters, situation, and time period. Description should not be self-serving or irrelevant to the situation or story. It should help orient readers in the scene.

Exposition is the telling of the story through relaying information. It is used for explaining, transitions, and narrative summary to skip details of unimportant but necessary events. Too much exposition is referring to as “telling.” Not every part of the story should be told as exposition.

Thought is character self-talk or inner dialogue. It may be only thoughts, or actual talk (self encouragement or disparagement). In third person, thought is italicized to mark it as different from dialogue. First person wording (“I”) is also used in thoughts.

Scene sets the stage for a particular part of a story. It informs the reader of the situation the story section will take place in. Special attention should be paid to the open and close of each scenes so it does not begin or extend beyond what is relevant.

Narrative Voice

Narrative voice encapsulates the writer’s and narrator’s voice, viewpoint, style, tone, mood, and how a story is presented. Voice shows personality and changes depending on the character or situation. Nearly all elements of a story contribute to the voice of the story and needs to be consciously thought out to make sure it’s present in the best way for a particular story.

 

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Elements of Narrative Voice

Attitude has to do with emotion, values, and beliefs, worldview, and feelings about a particular person or situation. It reveals how the narrator speaks, their body language, reactions, and actions.

Tone isn’t just what is said but how something is said. Speed of speech, loudness/quietness, word choice, emotion behind words, and physical actions accompanying words all affect tone.

Personal style includes vocabulary, sentence structure, grammar/technical aspects, and personal preferences. This can be developed for each character to highlight uniqueness.

Choosing narrative modes to develop a distinct narrative voice

Every story has a unique balance of narrative modes based on which create the most appropriate feel. Modes should be varied. Stories that rely to heavily on one or a select few become monotonous.

  • Vary modes used to open and close scenes
  • Break up big chunks of dialogue with action
  • Avoid long sections of thought
  • Space out action scenes to give readers a chance to reflect and anticipate what comes next
  • Keep description to what is relevant and helps develop the story, setting, or characters

How a story is told is just as important as the story being told.

Posted in books, characters, writing, writing advice, writing thoughts, writing tips

Enriching characters through backstory

What is the most unusual profession a character has had from a book you’ve read?

Death_to_stock_kinckerbocker_photography_2I asked this question to a group of writers I work with and got some interesting answers, from a magical beast researcher to professional occult consultant to uprooting human babies grown in soil.

It was the start of a discussion on how backstory influences a character and how a well-developed backstory makes a stronger and more interesting character.

There are several important areas of backstory to consider:

  • Convictions/Beliefs: political, social, economic views; theories on life; HOW did they acquire these?
  • Education: formal/non-formal, location, type of school
  • Family/Friends: be detailed, include those not active in story (may be later)
  • Geography: detail environment that helped shape character (climate, socio-economic, culture, history)
  • Key Past Events: events that shaped personality, fears, beliefs, etc.
  • Past Success/Failures: track record, worst memories, reasons behind fears, etc.
  • Phobias: reason behind avoidance or push to succeed, big or small
  • Profession: $$, love it/hate it?, biding time, stepping stone, dream job, etc.
  • Quirks: what makes them unique physically, psychologically, socially (Forest Gump, A Beautiful Mind)
  • Value System: define their version of right and wrong; what do they value in themselves/others, etc.
  • Talents/Skills: are they used/abandoned, many/few, etc.
  • Time Period: make it accurate, have a good reason for choosing it

Any backstory elements you choose to use should add something to the character and story. Superfluous details aren’t needed.

writing-1209121_1920If you find you’re struggling with developing a strong backstory or aren’t sure how to incorporate the backstory elements you’ve chosen in a meaningful way, here’s a great exercise to help you delve a little deeper:

  • Pick ONE element of backstory to develop: Moved constantly due to financial instability, as adult hoards money, intends to live in same house forever
  • Choose THREE ways that element manifested in the PAST: Craves stability in every aspect of life, won’t change despite bad situation, has witnessed crimes in neighborhood
  • Choose THREE ways this manifests in the PRESENT: House needs constant repair, poor job leaves no money for repairs, hides from neighbors

One last bit of advice on backstory is to DO THE RESEARCH

Whatever professional or educational background you choose should be realistic.

It takes 20 years of service to retire from the military. There are no 25-year-old retired ex-Navy SEALs, and it’s highly unlikely that they’re billionaires from their service alone. Electing not to re-enlist isn’t the same as retiring.

Becoming a psychiatrist takes 12 years on average (and includes going to medical school), and it takes about 10 years to become a licensed clinical psychologist, and doctor patient relationships would ruin a career.

Of course, lines can be pushed and crossed in fiction at times, but it’s important to be as realistic as possible or readers won’t be able to suspend their belief enough to enjoy the story.

Posted in books, creative writing, writing, writing advice, writing thoughts, writing tips

The importance of setting in fiction

Setting is not just a location for characters to interact. It should be relevant to the story and/or scene.

BeachHouse StepsSetting affects how a story progresses. Location can be a hindrance to or facilitate story progression. Consider how the chosen scene can be interacted with by the characters, how it might change actions or decisions, or how it affects the characters in the moment.

Setting affects a character’s worldview and mindset. When, where, and how we grow up shapes us. If a scene momentary, this may not apply, but a scene that is used multiple times or is a main feature of the story should have some kind of impact on how the character sees the world, themselves, and others as well as how they think and make decisions.

Setting establishes the atmosphere of scenes and affects reader perception of events. A guy on the street waving at a character standing in her bedroom will be perceived very differently depending on whether it’s a nice sunny day in summer or it’s a stormy, rainy night where no one should be out and about at midnight.

Setting affects characters’ choices and actions depending on how it impacts the scene or story

Setting can act as a character, either an antagonist or protagonist in some situations like survival stories or when the weather, climate, or location significantly impact how the story progresses and the character develops.

There are two main types of setting: backdrop and integral

 

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Backdrop settings are not terribly important to the story most of the time. These are incidental settings chosen because a scene needs to take place somewhere rather than out in the ether. These types of scenes could take place anywhere without changing the dynamic or meaning, such as hallways, cafes, sidewalks, etc. These normally need minimal description or attention.

Integral settings are settings where time and place influence the theme, character, and action of a story in some way. The story and characters would be different if the setting were changed. For example, Animal Farm wouldn’t be the same if set in a shoe store. These settings need more in-depth description and development to integrate them into the story and character experience fully. These types of settings are usually recurring settings or settings used for important scenes in the story.

When choosing settings, consider their impact on the story and characters.

Death_to_Stock_Chasing_Sunrise_8_Julian_DeSchutter

Posted in books, characters, creative writing, reading, writing, writing advice, writing thoughts, writing tips

Writing and tortillas and putting in the work

I love to cook and bake, but I’m not the greatest at following recipes. I was in the kitchen with my mom from an early age, and most of the time I really don’t think I need to read the entire recipe (especially if it’s in a blog post that gives the entire history of a dish before getting to the actual recipe). I’m also not very good at planning ahead, so I often have to make substitutions and rush recipes (like not letting things rise for the full amount of time).

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With New Mexico being under a stay-at-home order, I’ve been working from home and have had more time to prepare meals most days. So, I’ve been making an extra effort to plan ahead and follow the recipe more closely.

I’ve made tortillas a few times, usually from a mix, but with the shortages at the grocery stores right now, I ended up making some from scratch. I followed the recipe to the letter, including kneading it for the full amount of time (which I almost never do). They were the best tortillas I’ve ever made!

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What does this have to do with writing?

Writers often feel pressured to get the next book out as as soon as possible to keep readers attention. Some say that writers need to release something every 90 days. This can lead to lower quality writing due to rushing, skipping steps, or not preparing well enough.

A recent book club I led for work featured a contemporary romance from a fairly well-known author with a big backlist and a lot of followers. The group was pretty much unanimous at the end of the reading session that this book suffered from the three problems I just mentioned. The characters were often flat and unrealistic. The story never really seemed to go anywhere because there was a lack of real conflict, and many of the scenes felt like filler used to make the target length.

While it is important to produce consistently, quality is more important. Whether in baking or writing, prepare, don’t rush, and don’t skip the steps it will take to make a project a success.

  • Characters need fleshed out backstories and motivations
  • Every chapter needs conflict
  • Conflict should build to the climax and mean something to the reader
  • Outline or storyboard to make sure you have enough content for the word count or end it when the story dictates
  • A storyline should compel readers by making important promises to the reader at the beginning and fulfilling those promises by the end
  • Don’t rely on readers  “buying anything you write” just because they’re fans

Putting in the work for a story is just as important as it is for a meal if you want to produce something people will love. The tortillas, paired with the fish my husband made, were definitely a success!

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Posted in books, creative writing, reading, writing, writing advice, writing thoughts, writing tips

Pacing that keeps the reader engaged

A story’s pacing needs to be consistent enough to keep readers engaged while providing all the ups and downs that create a realistic story rhythm. Below are some tips for strong pacing.

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  1. Plan with pacing in mind: Start at the outline level and make sure every scene has some element of conflict/reveal/resolution.
  2. Vary your conflict/reveal/resolution: Not every scene needs to be high intensity. Vary the sources and level or conflict/reveal/resolution in successive scenes, but make sure to keep building toward the climax. Utilize quieter scenes for reflection or understanding important details.
  3. Pace at the word and sentence level: Make sure your word choice and sentence structure match the pacing. Short, quick sentences with simpler words set a faster pace. Longer, more complex sentences using a bigger vocabulary slow the pacing.
  4. Use details appropriately: Sections of narrative with a lot of detail slow the pacing, which works well for scenes of internal reflection, revelation, or self-discovery. Use limited details in fast paced scenes to keep the action or conflict going.
  5. Highlight important moments through pacing: Using sustaining a faster pace builds to a important moments of action, revelation, or excitement. Slow the pace leading into moments of introspection, cueing readers into its importance.
  6. Critically evaluated scene elements: Ask what is the goal of this scene? Does the pacing serve the goal? What is detracting from the desired pacing? Remove elements that don’t match the pacing, such as extraneous dialogue (small talk, rambling), unnecessary details, extended character thoughts that are off topic, etc.

Consider where your scene is in the rise and fall of the plot arc and make sure the pacing matches its position. If the scene is flatlining and not moving the story forward, cut or rewrite it to better match its purpose.

Posted in books, characters, creative writing, writing, writing advice, writing thoughts, writing tips

Developing character motivation that draw the reader in

Understanding your characters’ motivation is key to developing strong characters.

 

dragonsOne of my favorite examples comes from one of my favorite childhood books, Princess Cimorene from “Dealing with Dragons.” She feels trapped in her life as a princess and is about to married off to a ridiculous prince, so she volunteers to be a “captive” princess for a dragon and ends up having all sorts of adventures while fending off knights who keep trying to “rescue” her.

Character motivation is the driving force behind what characters do and the choices they make. Motivations are based on needs. These are deep-seated needs that affect every aspect of their lives and psyches. They may be internal (psychological or existential) or external (survival).

Motivation spurs the character (and story) to keep moving, growing, and developing over time. Whatever need they have needs to be fulfilled, and making choices or taking action helps get them closer to that fulfillment. The steps the character takes to fulfill a need become major and minor plot points.

Motivation also makes a character more relatable. Every human has needs. Even though our individual needs vary, we all understand that desire to seek for something else, move forward, or find a better situation. Starting with a universal need helps reach a wide range of readers. That motivation can then be tailored to the character and story and narrowed down into something unique without losing reader interest.

Motivation provides characterization. It tells the reader something important about that character, such as how they were raised/treated, what cultural norms shaped their morals or values, what expectations they have for themselves or others, etc. Motivation also reveals important truths about character roles and how they fit in to the story.

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Every character needs a motivation, even side characters and antagonists. Side characters don’t need to be developed as deeply, and may only have a general need or motivation, but having something that drives them makes them more realistic. Antagonists act in frustrating or despicable ways for a reason. They are also trying to fulfill a motivation, often a self-serving or misguided one, but they must have a goal that directs their character arc in order to be realistic and engaging.

Motivations must be realistic. That doesn’t mean their end goal is realistic, but it has to be something a reader can believe the character is truly motivated by. Illogical, weak, or lazy motivations make characters aggravating and unrelatable. Motivations can easily be deluded, irrational, misguided, or even malicious. It’s important that the motivation comes from a base need that readers can understand, even if they don’t agree with or like it.

Goals and motivations are not the same thing. Motivation can lead to goals and steps that need to be taken. Goals are the end result, the fulfillment of a motivation. Motivation is what drives the character to keep moving toward a goal even when it’s incredibly difficult.

Characters can have multiple, and even conflicting, motivations. Humans are not rational creatures most of the time. We want things that keep us from reaching other goals all the time. We want things we know we can’t have. We self-sabotage. We want two things that can’t coexist together. Don’t shy away from making your character complex…within reason.

Death_to_stock_photography_Vibrant (9 of 10)

Posted in books, characters, creative writing, editing, publishing, writing, writing advice, writing thoughts, writing tips

Improving your self-editing skills

Self-editing is not a skill that comes perfectly paired with great writing.

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Not all writers are good editors. Why?

  • It’s difficult to see your own errors
  • You’ve seen it too many times and practically have it memorized
  • You’re sick of looking at it by that point
  • It makes sense to you, or you wouldn’t have written it
  • You’re too close to it

The aspects of editing many writers are good at include:

  • They have the best overall understanding of the concept of their story
  • They know the characters best
  • They get what makes a good story
  • They are readers, and understand readers

Before you start editing, it’s important to understand what type of editing you’re undertaking.

  • Proofreading: Picking out typos, missed words, misplaced commas, etc.
  • Line editing/Copyediting: Critiquing sentence and paragraph structure, repetition, word choice, etc.
  • Content/Developmental Editing: Story, character, flow, cohesion, etc.

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It’s also important to give yourself some time away from the project before you start editing

  • Begin the editing process by NOT editing
  • Step away for a while
  • Get fresh eyes
  • Read something in your genre
  • Read critically for style, flow, and pacing
  • Forget the details
  • Do something non-writing related!

The overall editing process is broken into several stages:

  1. Read the entire text and focus on plot/character issues
  2. Focus on wording and readability
  3. Focus on word choice and sentence structure
  4. Focus on grammar and punctuation
  5. Final review to polish

Make use of tools that can help make the editing process easier and more efficient:

  • Run Spellcheck
  • Run Autocrit, Grammarly, or ProWritingAid
  • Print it out if possible/change the format
  • Many authors edit better in hardcopy
  • Read in different format than the one you wrote it in (like on your Kindle)
  • Get out your Freshman Comp books (Elements of Style is a classic)

Before you dive into typos and comma usage, think big picture when it comes to editing

  • What is the point of your story?
  • What is your character meant to accomplish?
  • What do you hope the reader takes away at the end?
  • Why did you write this book?

As you start editing, think like a reader

  • Change your perspective: As you’re writing, it’s difficult to be objective, so you need to start thinking like a reader
  • Read the story critically like you would any other book: What do you like? What don’t you like? What stands out as out of place?

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Evaluate the plot as you read and identify weak areas

  • Create a timeline as you read: Is the timing consistent? Is the pacing consistent with the timeline?
  • Are there plot holes or unanswered questions? Don’t attempt to answer them yet, but write them down
  • Does the reveal of information come logically? Where do the characters find answers? When do they find answers?
  • Is there enough complexity to remain interesting? Is their too much filler to cover up loose plotting?

Great characters can make or break a story, so focus on characters and their growth and development while editing

  • Character Consistency: Character BIO (know the details), Who is this character on page 1? Who is this character on the last page? What does their dialogue sound like? Write down a sample from the beginning, middle, and end and compare. What is their world view, attitudes, and ethics?
  • When to break consistency: Situational (Events or knowledge drastically changes something and they act outside their norm, i.e. “Insanity is a perfectly natural reaction to an unreasonable situation.”) or Paradox (The reader thinks they know the character and later learns more that changes who they are)

Lastly, check the overall fit of your story elements

  • Point of View/Tense: Is this the best point of view or tense for this story?
  • Style: Does this style of writing fit the character and story type?
  • Structure: Does the way the character move through the plot make sense?

The purpose of this first, full edit is to identify major plot, story, character, and content issues that need to be addressed before any further editing is done.

 

Posted in books, characters, creative writing, marketing, reading, writing, writing advice, writing thoughts, writing tips

Writing to market vs. writing to a specific audience

What is the difference between writing to market and writing for a specific audience, and how does it affect they way you write?

Writing to market is sales-focused. It is writing what is currently popular in your genre, whether that be themes, tropes, subgenres, or topics. An important detail of this definition is “in your genre.” Jumping into new fads you don’t have experience with or haven’t researched usually doesn’t work out well. Writing to market requires constantly staying on top of genre trends and being ready to shift or switch focus quickly.

buy-3692440_1920Writing to market also means knowing general audience expectations, likes, and dislikes. Generally, readers don’t have a strong preference for standalones or series, a plot that moves quickly and well-developed characters keeps readers from putting down a book, blurbs and book covers that don’t accurately portray a book upset readers, readers prefer to interact with authors on Facebook more than other platforms, most readers do want to interact with authors, and readers pay attention to reviews.

Writing to a specific audience is more reader focused. It takes into account general audience expectations then narrows them to a specific genre, subgenre, or trope. Writing to a specific audience takes researching and understanding who you readers are, what they want out of a specific book, and determining the story elements that will satisfy their expectations.

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Understanding your audience means researching and identifying several key factors:

  • Specific genre/subgenre conventions that must be utilized (not all conventions are a must and there is room for creativity and exploration)
  • Trope elements that are expected by the reader (don’t be formulaic, but hit the crucial points that make the story fit the trope)
  • What your book gives the reader (a story must fulfill something for the reader, whether it be escapism, a thrill, vicarious excitement/romance, etc.)
  • Demographics of your audience (the data is out there, even if you might have to make a few leaps or assumptions to narrow it enough to your niche)

The key to writing to a specific audience is figuring out what they want from your specific book and then delivering it. If readers expect an HEA, there better be a very good and convincing reason not to give them one. If readers expect vivid sex scenes and barely gets a peck on the cheek, the reviews will reflect their unhappiness. Make a promise to your reader in the blurb and make sure you fulfill that promise with a great ending.

Writing to market and writing to a specific audience can feel limiting or frustrating when we focus too much on one or the other. Aiming for something in between is a helpful balance. Focusing too much on what sells can lessen the excitement of writing and the emotional connection to the story and characters. You need to love what you’re writing for readers to truly enjoy it as well. Know what is selling in the market and what readers want from a specific book, but add spice and uniqueness to tropes and conventions by delving more deeply into what will excite and satisfy readers on a personal level.