To make your novel successful, you need dedicated readers. But that doesn’t happen with a snap of your fingers, you have to work hard to achieve their dedication. You have to keep them tethered and intrigued throughout the story so that midway they don’t DNF it. Now you might say that “It’s easy enough because the story I’ve written is filled with plot twists.” or “My beta readers have praised the book.” But wait, according to you, it might be a solid action-packed drama induced story, but for them, it might not be the case.
Here are a few points that you can go through and tick them off as you proceed and in the end hope for the best.
Nail the Blurb
While people say don’t judge a book by its cover, but they do judge a book by its blurb. Blurb or synopsis is something that a bibliophile will read before considering reading the book or buying it. If it’s poorly written or confusing, then people tend to steer clear of that book. Therefore, write a blurb that will hook the readers, that will compel them to buy the book, be it a paperback or an ebook.
Arrest their Attention From The Very Beginning
The opening chapter is where the readers determine whether they would like to continue reading or whether they should keep it on their wish list and move on to another book. Start the chapter with some action or abruptly, something that will instantly draw their attention. It’s not easy for one’s attention to waver once they are hooked.
One More Chapter
Cliffhanger is the most commonly used plot device. This device can be used when a character is about to face his/her nemesis or danger or they are about to embark on an adventurous journey, and it can also be used when there’s a shocking revelation. Write short but impactful sentences at the end of the chapter, which might give a feeling of foreboding.
Strategically place these cliffhangers in your story so it doesn’t become repetitive, yet the reader will think, "One more chapter."
Plot Says A Lot
Despite the blurb being intriguing to some, a lot of readers believe that blurbs can be misleading and we can’t have that. Therefore, the plot has to be well-knit. The sub-plots have to be well incorporated. If you have written plot twists, make sure they are seamless, so that the reader might feel that it was unnecessary instead of being awed by it. Create arresting events and a mind-blowing climax.
Don’t play safe. Venture out of your comfort zone. Mix clichés with uncommon.
A consistent story is vital, otherwise, readers might find your story erratic and confusing. Make sure to not deviate too much from the main plot or go off the track. For instance, if you are writing a suspense novel, then keep the readers at the edge of their seats.
Create Charismatic Characters
Develop relatable characters. Don’t make them flawless, at least not everyone. Having multiple characters allows you to not only write more sub-plots and create interesting events but also increases the chance of each reader liking at least one of them. For instance, Cassandra Clare’s The Shadowhunter Chronicles has a variety of characters, and you will find, if not all but at least one of them your favourite.
Mind Your Language
Use beautiful prose but make sure it fits with the genre and setting. Don’t use excessive flowery language that might make readers put the book down after a few chapters because they can’t understand and have to keep a dictionary within their reach. Your writing should be lucid yet beautiful. For instance, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus is a beautifully written, visually invoking novel.
Write engaging and witty dialogues, which can be short or long, crackling or deep, laugh-inducing or a tear-jerker.
What Else Can You Do?
- Get beta readers to review your draft. Get their opinions and correct the flaws.
- Push your limits as well as the readers’, don’t be wary. Don’t always follow the norms of a genre, give the readers a healthy dose of surprises.
- Be mindful of your reader’s expectations, give them what they want but don’t forget to make their jaws drop, because as much as they love to predict the events of the story, they also want to be internally screaming, “Damn, I didn’t see that coming.”
- Using humour or sprinkling it if the genre permits would be great.
- Don’t be shy of invoking a reader’s wrath, which is to say, incense them by writing events that destroy or endanger characters.
To sum it up, be creative and be bold. Just like the key to making a great dish is putting and mixing the right amount of ingredients, for a story too, you have to use the right amount of plot devices and literary devices. If you are writing a book for entertainment, then see to it that the readers don’t fall off to sleep. Keep in mind that not everyone will like the story, but make sure that those who do will love it throughout.