Essential Tips on Writing a Novel for Your Target Audience: How to Keep Readers Turning that Page

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October 23, 2015

Being an author isn’t about having a brilliant idea for a book. It’s about having the ability to illustrate that idea into words.

Authors have the ability to make sense of the random ideas that plague their mind. That is their skill. They can expound one brilliant idea into one vast and intricate made-up reality. Their skill allows them to change their thoughts into words to create one coherent and cohesive whole that can touch and change the lives of their readers.

In short, if one desires to become an author, one needs to become a great storyteller. For those who dream of becoming a great author, hone your skill through these elements:

A. Finding inspiration

That novel won’t write itself. But you won’t get to write it either, unless you place yourself in an environment that is conducive toward achieving your writing goals. If you want to get started on that novel, say no to distractions that will only keep you from writing it.

If you want to become a novelist, you shouldn’t be too keen on following all those writing tips. Follow your instincts, and do whatever gets those ideas to flow. Various writers have different writing quirks. What works for others might not work for you. For instance, you might be like Truman Capote, George Orwell, and Marcel Proust.

 

become novelist
Photo credits: Truman Capote. Photograph by Pati Hill

 

These writers preferred to lay supine while writing. On the other hand, there are writers such as Virginia Woolf, William Butler Yeats, and Charles Dickens who prefer to move around and about while writing. So, go with whatever stimulates your imagination and what gets you to formulate ideas to write a novel.

B. Identifying a target audience

You can’t please all the readers in the world, and you shouldn’t try to. That is an impossible feat. Even the best writers can’t please everyone. So, before you start writing your book, picture out your audience. Who are you writing for? How old are they? Are they male or female?

Yes, you create the content that suits a specific audience, but you don’t let them determine how your story goes. You are the writer. You are in charge. You create the content.

ideas to write a novel

If you are an aspiring best-selling author, you shouldn’t be afraid to kill off the characters that you carefully developed for your audience to love. Don’t be afraid to stir your readers’ emotions.

C. Creating an outline for your story

A novel outline can make writing easier. An outline will contain the necessary elements that make up your story. Hence, it will be your guide. It spares you from overthinking about all the random ideas that pop into your mind, and it will spare you from the agony of creative constipation. Make sure you’ve identified the following aspects before you proceed to writing your book:

Theme

The theme is the prevailing message in your story. It is what you want your readers to understand, and it’s what your story seeks to highlight. Take Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables as an example. Through various characters in the story, Hugo is able to reveal how love begets love. One character’s gesture of love always inspires another to lead a life filled with love.

Characters

Who are your characters? What are their traits?

It’s important that you establish their nature before you create your story. Your characters need to move, act, or develop in a way that’s natural to their disposition. Once you identify your characters’ traits, it will be easier to write how they progress through the story.

Point of View

The point of view refers to the narrator’s position in the story. For example, an all-knowing narrator allows access to all of the characters’ thoughts, feelings and actions. Thus, for a story that’s heavy on mystery, the omniscient narrator will not be a great choice for this.

The POV determines how your readers perceive your story. Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is the perfect example for this. When the story is told from diary Amy’s perspective, readers get pulled in by the innocent housewife’s tale of fear and abuse. But when the POV shifts to the voice of the real Amy, readers come to understand the crazy anti-heroine who wanted to teach her cheating husband a lesson.

Story Arcs

The story arcs govern your story’s development. Assume an arc, so you will know what to focus on when you’re going to write your novel.

  • Plot Arcs

Plot arcs follow a static character’s journey. Think of James Bond or Indiana Jones. This arc focuses on the hero’s adventure or quest.

  • Character Arcs

When a story dwells on how the character comes to accept his/her responsibilities, or how the character becomes a hero, it follows the Character Arc. This arc follows the main character’s emotional development. Thus, the main characters of this arc are dynamic or changing.

write your novel
Image Source (L-R): mugglehub.com; Wikipedia.com

 

Readers love character arcs. The seemingly ordinary protagonist who stands up to the heartless villain is always a crowd favorite.

D. Writing your first draft

You don’t have to seclude yourself from the world and drown yourself in your own made-up world.

write

You can write a few thousand words each day. For example, Jack London wrote 1,000 words every single day of his career. Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 3,000.  Again, it’s all up to you to decide the right time of the day to start writing. The goal is to write every day, even if it’s only for an hour or two each day.

E. Finishing your first draft

Take it from Ernest Hemingway, the first draft will always be a poor version of the story you want to tell. So, don’t be disheartened. Always seek to improve your work. If you can, ask help from professional editors – indie publishers or freelance editors – who can teach you how to publish a novel. If you don’t want to spend on editing, seek help from your family members, or your friends who can give you an honest critique of your work.

F. Getting it publication ready

When you’re done with your manuscript, you should start getting it publication-ready. Aside from editing, you will need to complete the following tasks:

  • Proofreading
  • Book cover design
  • Format
  • Layout
  • Book blurb