There are seven fundamental reasons that some books succeed and others collect dust on the author’s bookshelf. These seven keys to success as an author are simple, obvious even, and yet in the midst of our writing many of us forget them.
We get so focused on the idea of the book that we forget the mechanics. Here is the strategy that award winning authors use:
1) Create a hero that your audience can relate to.
Examine your target market honestly. Who will be reading your book? Just because you think that your main character is funny, charming and brilliant doesn’t mean that they will or even that that is what they care about.
2) Write for your audience, not your highschool English professor. There has already been a Shakespeare. Most genres do not require you to write like him. You will just turn your audience off if you write at a level beyond their comprehension.
3) Give your reader a problem that he or she can empathize with.
Ex. Are you writing for teenage girls? Then something to do with the pains of adolescent romance, or lack thereof, might be a good start.
4) Provide a nemesis that makes sense. The antagonist in your story should appear to be everything that your main character is not. Then go back in and give him or her some good qualities as well.
People are not good or evil. Your characters should have the same character traits, as the rest of humanity.
Ex. A Thief with a Conscience or who hates everyone except his little sister, who he has taken care of since their mom died.
Give all your characters depth.
5) Provide obstacles for your main characters. Both your hero and antagonist need to have a few bumps in the road. Life isn’t smooth. Let them both screw up and figure their way out of their messes.
6) Your hero, at the very least, must learn a lesson about himself or herself. Is he braver than he thought he was? Is her nerdiness actually an asset?
Your characters should have some type of self-realization. It can be subtle. You do not have to go into a five chapter monologue on it, just give the readers some clues that he or she has changed.
7) Begin and end your story with a bang. Grab your reader’s attention in the beginning and have them hoping for a sequel in the end. The rest, no matter how much work you put into it, will probably be skimmed until they hit the next seat gripping scene. Your job is to make that skim time as short as possible.