Saturday, May 19, 2018

How To Write A Novel Readers Love – The Who

Dear Author,

Kudos! You have your story genre nailed down, and you’re ready to move on to the next step.

In this letter, you'll discover a big secret to writing a novel that readers love. This secret will crack your plot mystery wide open. Here it is.

It’s not what your story is about that matters. It’s who your story is about that means everything.

Every great story has one central character that everyone and everything else focuses on. This person is your protagonist, or hero/heroine.

This is the person we all get to know in an intimate way. We root for her when all seems lost. We fall in love with him when he achieves his greatest triumph in the finale.

What you'll find out next is how to make sure readers adore your protagonist. It all begins with one simple question…

Whose story is it?

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet some writers focus on the plot of their story without first figuring out who’s going to navigate it. This is a dangerously backward approach. And if you go down this rocky road, you'll have a difficult time writing a story that makes sense.

You'll have an even more difficult time finishing your story. Or even starting it.

In order to write a novel that readers love, you must identify not only “The Big What If”, but you must also identify “The Big Who”. Who will your novel will be about?

This is where you give your protagonist a name.

For my young adult novel, From Bad Girl To Worse, I named my protagonist Sandra Porter.

Here’s some insight into why I chose that name. My goal was to create a heroine who was enough like a real seventeen-year-old high school girl that readers could easily empathize with. I also wanted a protagonist unique enough to stand out in readers’ minds and stay with them long after they finished reading the story.

The heroine’s last name, Porter, seemed to fit the empathy bill. It’s not an unusual name, and makes her like “one of us”, which is very important in a story. Her first name, Sandra, stands out from the crowd just enough to be noticed. It's a pretty name.

And I just like the way it sounds.

Regarding the story, Sandra Porter is the sun in our universe in From Bad Girl To Worse. Everything that every other character does or says must affect her in some significant way. Yes, the other characters will have their own goals and fears, but readers should ultimately care about Sandra’s goals and fears, whether she gets what she wants, and how she feels about her victory or defeat.

Regarding your protagonist, your readers should want to follow her through the entire story…from the first word to the last. They should laugh with her, cry with her, fail with her and succeed with her.

Your readers should feel what your protagonist feels.

Is all of this beginning to make sense? Hopefully by now, you're getting a clear mental picture of your hero or heroine. And you can actually see that person standing right in front of you.

By now, you should at least know her name.

Well, do you?

If so, then congratulations! You’ve just identified by name the compelling protagonist your story will be about.

But that’s only the beginning. In my next letter to you, we get to turn your named lead character into a living, breathing, struggling, losing and winning human being that your readers will love.

Happy creating,

L. R. Farren
Author of From Bad Girl To Worse
and The Dangerous Way Home

P. S. – Liking the person you are about to go on a three hundred page narrative journey with is one of the most important elements of your story. If you don’t like your protagonist, neither will your readers. 

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