On Facebook, I asked writers following me to ask any questions they wish to be answered, and the first question goes thus:
“How can I possibly write a book that captivates its reader from start to finish?”
THIS is my answer:
The ideas, the inspiration to write and the motivation must, of course, come from within you.
It starts by being true to yourself.
First, you need to choose the type of writer you want to be. Do you gravitate towards fiction writing or would you rather be a non-fiction writer? If fiction, you decide on your genre. There are lots and lots of genre to choose from. From romance to horror to mystery to historical to detective genres, you have a wide range to choose from.
You can start by experimenting on different levels. Start with the kind of books you like to read. What type of books gives you joy? What type of books inspires you? What type of books would you like to see your name on?
Then, you move on to the point you want to address specifically in the book. This is also important for fiction writers. Your story must revolve around a central theme. What topics are you passionate about or very good at? Start from there, and explore.
For the non-fiction writers, this is pretty easy as you can just focus on your area of expertise. Decide what you’re very good at, and then start writing to further develop it and up your game.
Another thing that is absolutely necessary is that you decide who you want to write for before you even write the first word. What kind of people make up your target audience? What specific problems do you want your book to solve?
For fiction, what kind of books would you like to read that has not been written yet? Or how can you add your own stamp on a previously written idea?
This is very important as it will help you sell when it comes time to. So, before you pen anything down, decide WHO you are writing for.
Ask yourself these questions:
For fiction writers.
I. How can I make an existing story better?
Have you read The Twilight Series and The Fifty Shades of Grey Series? I heard that The Fifty Shades of Grey actually started as a fan-fiction. The author, E.L James, loved The Twilight Series so much that she wrote stories on her blog channeling the characters in the series. Today, her books are bestsellers and have been adapted into movies.
So, do you have a story you particularly love? Think of a way to make it better and appear in a totally different light.
II. What can I tweak or add to make a good story different?
Should I add an element of supernatural to a perfectly modern story? Can I modernize an old school story? Be creative with this and you’ll find a way.
III. Is there a story that has never been written before?
Who knows? You might just be the one to write that story.
For non-fiction writers
I. What will save people a lot of time, effort and help them make money?
II. What value can I give that has never been given before?
III. What is it I wish I knew when I first started? (in my business or career)
IV. How can I write a pre-existing book with a different perspective?
Once you know what to write and who you’re writing for, you can continue.
Another point that is truly essential to you writing a captivating story is Research.
Research is key. If you want to write a book that your audience will find captivating, you have to do your research thoroughly. That is non-negotiable.
If you want your book to go far, solve the exact problem you want it to solve, and continue to resonate in the minds of the readers long after they have read it, then you cannot joke with your research.
Think of Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad; think of Anthony Robbins’ Awaken the Giant Within; think of Dale Carnegie’s How to win friends and influence people; think of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series; think of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series – these are all bestsellers. What made them different from the millions of other books out there? The ability of the writer to give you exactly what they promised – that cannot be achieved without in-depth research.
Do you have enough knowledge about the topic or story you’re trying to write? Do you have enough information/understanding of the subject you intend to tackle?
These days, readers expect a high degree of legitimacy and detail in their books. They want to feel that when writers describe exotic locations, the firepower of a deadly weapon or the complex inner workings of an exclusive trade or profession; that they know what they are talking about.
They expect you, as a writer, to be familiar with every aspect of the world you are narrating. So when it comes to tackling your book, you have to be honest and ask yourself: do I know enough about the setting, the era, the lifestyles or professional environment of the characters to be able to write a book which is substantial? Do I have enough information, know-how to tell people how to better their lives and career?
Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to know everything in this world before you write a book, but you have to be ready to do your research and get enough information, enough knowledge to share with your readers.
If you’re writing a historical drama, do you know what people wore in times gone by? Can you describe their homes, customs and lives in detail? If you’re tackling a crime story, do you know what happens in a postmortem or how detectives investigate a murder? If your heroine works as a reporter, can you recreate the atmosphere, language and backdrop of a newspaper office? Can you say how the job of a reporter differs from that of, say, a sub-editor?
If not, then you’ll have to do some research. It may be time consuming but any period spent getting that information is critical in giving your work credibility.
Many new writers often see research as a chore. But it does not need to be burdensome or dull. It’s often fascinating and you’ll find yourself having great fun learning new or unusual things.
If you get on the internet and couldn’t find what you are looking for, then look for someone who knows what you want or scrap that idea all together. It is better to not write that part than to write a non-convincing scene or book.
In these days of instant worldwide information at the touch of a button, it’s possible to find out just about anything; just do your research.
This information is culled from my book, The Smart Writer’s Handbook. You’ll get a lot more in-depth knowledge from the book. In fact, all you need to write and publish your first book. You can get the eBook HERE.
If you have any further questions, please ask below and I’ll answer them all soonest….xoxo