Friday, October 4, 2013

give your work that "it" factor



The past weeks have involved a lot of research on how to take a book to the next level. At some point, most of us will hear things along the lines of, "The characters are compelling and the plot is well paced and the writing is beautiful BUT I didn't fall in love."

How can we get rid of that BUT and everything after? I don't think there's one magic formula but there are tips I've learned (the hard way, of course ;)) that have helped.


1. Make things worse for your character(s). How can your character's world fall apart? Break that answer down into smaller plot lines and see how those can be woven into your work. Something I had to do was write individual scenes on a separate document and then assess whether they could be included in the manuscript.

2. Leave some things unknown. This can be in the form of a secret or a new development in the plot that isn't resolved right away. Either way, don't tell the reader what happens quickly. Let them keep turning the pages to find out.

3. Make your main character's motivations clash with those of the other characters in the story. Maybe your hero wants to travel but his family wants him to stay at home and take care of them. Or perhaps your character wants to support one friend at another friend's expense. Make sure that picking one thing means letting go of another. Center it around a difficult choice.

4. Show some hardship that your character has to overcome. We don't want to root for a perfect character with a perfect journey. Yawn. See if your character has a sympathetic back story that can serve as a reason for us to root for him/her.

5. Think of elements that only you can add. I truly believe that originality goes a long way. When I read author interviews, a lot of their stories are influenced by their own upbringings, struggles, and professions. A chef can include enticing recipes in a narrative about cooking. A historian can set the scene for an old war drama. What are your interests? How can you include them to make the reading experience a fun learning one?


How do you think a book gets that "it" factor?


17 comments:

  1. Saumya, I'm not a writer but have been wanting to comment for awhile. I guess you could call me a coward. What I want to say is that I've been in love with yu for a long time and you'll never knw. If I was a woman, I'd hate you until I'd realize that you are not only gorgeous, intelligent, and passionate (and talented and humble, etc.) but a perfect friend. You dn't let people go and yu're always forgiving. I'm happy for the way yur life has turned out and I'll be happy when you keep soaring higher. Your man is lucky but I'm guessing he already knew that there were always about ten people at minimum who were ready to give you everything. Not sure why I'm even putting this out. Just wanted you to knw, I guess.

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    1. Nt sure if you saw my original comment because it kept getting deleted. Assumed it was from you. Sorry if i embarrassed you.

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  2. Those are some really good tips, Saumya. What gives a book that IT factor? I think it's the ability of the reader to slip into the main character and experience things through his eyes. If the reader can really connect and feel it, I think that's when they fall in love.

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  3. I think all of these are great, particularly #1 and #2. They allow the reader to become intellectually more involved and add compelling interest to the story. I'm not really a writer yet, although I may be trying my hand at it in the future, so I appreciate these tips.

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    1. Shelly, I think based off of the words I've read, you are quite a writer and a beautiful one at that. I really hope that you continue it.

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  4. So, what is your current writing project? Have I missed you talking about a novel? Do you have representation? I'm behind, I suppose.

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    1. Hey, Jennifer! Yes and yes! We are working on editing the novel. I'm also working on a novella and some poems. I was just about to comment on your blog the other day and then had to shut my computer. Thanks for always supporting my work.

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    2. You're one talented lady. I just want to keep up so I can be in on the ground floor of "I knew her when...".

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  5. Liked advice no 5 , the best Saumya:)

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  6. Great tips.
    What about those of us who write from the bottom of our hearts and want to get our words out?

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    1. Thanks, Munir. I truly believe that words that come from the heart will touch others. Maybe try freewriting just to see what comes out and where it leads.

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  7. All 5 are so important, but #5, that unique way only you can see (and write), is the absolutely crucial factor, and sometimes the easiest one to lose sight of!

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  8. Still unsure if I'll ever be writing a full novel, but I guess these tips are applicable even to short stories. And then I realized, the fiction pieces I have written so far are loosely based on the same structure! Interesting.

    Number 5, just couldn't agree anymore about its significance.

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  9. Too much analysis. Writing should be organic. It should come from heart. It doesn't need a plot; beginning, middle and end. It could be whatever the writer wants it to be. Instead of so much analysis, just go ahead and start writing.
    :-))))))

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    1. Actually, it depends on what the individual's goal is. Writing is always the first step but if someone is looking to create a commercial work, then this is the advice that an agent would give. Since this advice did come from series of conversations with an agent and many of my blogging friends are looking to publish commercially, I shared this. That doesn't mean it's for everyone at all and I never said that I'm defining the only way to write a story. There's the writing and then, depending on one's vision, there are the other facets after that.

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  10. It was so nice to see your comment on my post--it has been awhile since I've read about your writing. Such great tips! All of them! I'm learning to let some things unknown for the reader. I always felt I should tell them everything and that's not the best way.

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