I like to read self-published authors. However, and unfortunately, I find that at least 85% of what I read doesn’t hold my attention for more than a paragraph, maybe two. Most people will read the very beginning of your book (some will try through a page or more, others may stop at the first sentence). If there’s nothing there to capture them, they stop. Just TELLING a story is not enough. And telling is what I am finding all too often in self-published books. The problem I have also found is that, because self-published books are so dominant on places like Amazon, and it’s so easy to toss a book up there no matter what its content, readers are beginning to look at faster plots and writing. They’re forgetting what good prose really looks like, or think it’s “too flowery.” I am not saying you need to write “purple prose,” but if you truly want something memorable that readers will get so drawn into, they will forget the world around them and be sad when the story ends, then keep these tips in mind.
- Start your novel with true HOOK. For example, someone walking down the street is only interesting if they are being followed and the writing SHOWS how your characters feels, what they think, sights, smells, etc. around them. Make us FEEL how they feel. Get us into their head.
- SHOW don’t tell. This is almost a cliche today, yet it holds true more today than ever. In my 30+ years writing, publishing and reading, I have never read more crap than what is out there today. The characters are just going along, doing things, thinking a few things, talking, but there’s NO sense of urgency, nothing to draw me into the story. I read the first few paragraphs to get a sense of the author’s writing style and if something catches my attention, I keep reading. 90% of the books (particularly self-published) that I read do not make me read any further.
- Have a VOICE. Each character should have their own distinct voice and personality. Don’t forget character quirks. We all have them.
- Write your first draft any way you want. Edit on your next drafts, making each edit like building a person from the skeleton up. And don’t stop building until you have a WHOLE person. Don’t leave your character without skin.
- Be UNIQUE. It’s ok if you want to write the new Twilight, but don’t copy Stephenie Meyer. That’s been done. Find a new angle, unique characters and a different story. Make it YOURS.
Make sure to give yourself TIME in between drafts. Let the book “cool” so you can go at it with fresh eyes. I have made the mistake of putting a book out too soon, so I get it, I really do. But, it’s vital to be patient.