Don't you wish there was a map to follow to find success with your writing?
Each of us must chart our own course to our novel's successful end, but there are some shoals we should avoid:
1.) TOO MANY CHARACTERS
When more than just a few characters are introduced in the first few pages of a book,
it’s difficult to keep their names and roles straight.
Have a literal boatload of characters?
Filter them in slowly in the first few chapters,
linking them in the mind of the readers with vivid sketches of their personalities.
2.) STERILE CHARACTERS
If your characters are flat, if there’s nothing to set them and their struggles apart, we won’t want to cheer for them, and might not care enough to keep reading.
3.) EXPERIMENTAL STYLE
When a writer experiments with style or structure, the result can be refreshing or irritating.
Your ability to pull off something out-of-the-ordinary depends on your skill as a writer,
and your ability to connect with readers despite your unusual style.
Anyone who has read my blog for long knows that I loved Roger Zelazny's books.
But towards the end of his career, he experimented with strange formats to his books.
In DOORWAYS IN THE SANDS, he ended the chapters with cliffhangers,
but then started the next chapter some time later, working back to the resolution of the crisis.
VERY, VERY irritating!
I only stayed because I liked him. I don't think many other of his fans did.
4.) UNCLEAR CHARACTER MOTIVATIONS
Have you ever read a book where a character does something, and you say,
“Why on earth did she do that?? A mother would never do that!”
Ensure your characters’ actions are in line with their motivations,
and if they don’t appear to be on the surface, your reader must understand why not.
Don't lift your readers out of your novel with characters you force to be stupid to get them to make mistakes to propel your story forward.
5.) HAZY STRUCTURE
If all the good stuff happens at the beginning, or if nothing exciting happens until the end, your reader will be frustrated with the rest of the book.
6.) WRITE FOR THE MARKET ONLY
If you start by chasing the market, you study the bestseller lists and try to identify a trend, jumping on it.
Even if the trend is still hot by the time your novel comes out, the story will be lackluster, for it didn't come out of your dreams.
7.) NULLIFY THE DANGER OR REACH THE GOAL TOO EARLY
The point is to raise the stakes so that the readers are not only cheering your protagonist on,
but afraid that they may fail to save whatever it is that they are trying to keep.
Regardless of your genre,
every novel must have a protagonist trying to accomplish or reach some kind of goal.
The plot itself is then the character’s journey to try to reach said goal.
In some novels, that goal may evolve along the way,
but the important thing is that whatever the goal is, it is out of reach throughout the large majority of the novel.
By making your characters fail, often repeatedly, to reach that goal,
you keep your readers hooked because they’ll want to find out how your character will manage to succeed.
What do you think are some deadly mistakes to avoid in our writing?