Hi readers! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and family. I very much appreciate you and your willingness to read my little reviews and other thoughts. One of my favorite delights is giving back to the writing community, and this week I had the opportunity to be the “expert” for a local student’s 8th Grade project. She presented me with a whole host of questions which I answered for her, and I thought maybe, as a reader or writer, you might be interested in some of the answers I gave. Therefore, mixed in with my Endorser Spotlights on Fridays, I’m going to share the answer to a few of her questions and then add them to my writer’s resources tab. I’ve edited it to fit the general population, as she also had specific questions about her particular story.
How do you write a book most people would find entertaining and enjoyable?
The first thing to understand is no book is for everyone. Each reader has their own preferences for what they like or dislike in a book. No matter what you write, there will always be someone who thinks it’s the most awful book on the planet and it should never have been written. However, there are people who will adore your books and call you their favorite author because you write what they like. A person who loves horror books along the lines of Stephen King is not going to enjoy a romance book by Nicolas Sparks.
That being said, if you know who your target audience is, you are more likely to write in such a way as to make them happy and enjoy your book. Every reader who picks up a certain book type has specific expectations that match the genre.
So for a reader who picks up a historical romantic suspense novel like my book, they are going to expect to have a hero and heroine set in a historical time period with rich details and a plot that puts them in danger as they fall in love with one another. Readers are going to expect a villain, dangerous situation, and a happily ever after that leaves them satisfied.
In a mystery story, the reader expects to have something happen right away that leaves your characters trying to answer that question for the rest of the book. For example, who stole Mrs. Clark’s favorite songbook from her choral collection? Readers expect to have the questions who, why, and how answered. The character who stole the book must have believable means (How did they commit the crime? What abilities did they have?), motivation (Why did they do it?), and opportunity (When did they do it?), and the reader must have all three answered by the end of the story.
Keep your target reader in mind. What things do they like? What things would they be upset if you included in the story? Avoid those. If your target audience is 10-15 years olds, you are going to want to have main characters who are likely in high school and encountering some of the things high schooler students encounter as a teenager–mean teachers, too much homework, friend drama, family drama, awkward moments, sports, or anything else that works well with your story.
Your job as an author is to know what your target audience wants in a book and to provide it. You aren’t going to please everyone, but you want to strive to please the ones who enjoy your type of story. Even then, you won’t make everyone happy.
Question for readers:
What books do you like to read? What do you expect to find in those books?
Question for Writers:
Who is your target audience? What can a reader expect when they pick up your stories?