For new writers it can be tricky to know what to focus on. In a sea of rules and guidelines, what are the most important elements to perfect first? This week I’m teaching a continuing education session at ACFW, so I asked readers what they would tell new writers if they had the chance. This was a savvy group of responses. I hope you find it helpful!
- One thing that is a drawback for me is if I feel like the writer could say something very simply, but I can tell that they are trying to use more words or fancier words, than are necessary. It is one thing to paint an image or convey an idea with strong vocabulary, but another if you are trying to force something that isn’t really there… don’t try to just fill a page or use complicated vocabulary if that doesn’t come naturally to you. Think about your audience and think about how you would tell the story if you were “telling” it, instead of writing it.
- Some descriptive detail is good but don’t go overboard with it. The character development is a lot more important than a description of the room where they are.
- The story and characters need to capture me in the first 20 pages.
- I love many new authors, as they seem to take the time to really make each word count. The story is incredible. Sometimes the ones that don’t focus on keeping the quality in their stories lose me. Have a picture of the story you want to share to others. Make the words describe it.
- Authentic conversation style for characters. I have read some very good stories, but when the conversation is too stilted and unnatural, even though it may be good grammar, it just doesn’t feel real.
- Good dialogue, action in beginning, less flowery language, super plots & believable characters!
- That editing is everything! You can have a great story, but if it’s not well-edited I’m going to trip up on mistakes and the flow will be interrupted.
- Make sure they are well-edited with no spelling errors, punctuation errors, etc. Have several people who are good proofreaders read it before publishing. If there are multiple errors in a book, it distracts me from the story.
- Spelling , Spelling, Spelling! I detest reading a decent story when there are so many mispelled words!
- Believable characters with believable feelings.
- Personally, I struggle reading books written in first person. As a result, when I find a book is in first person, I’m loathe to delve into it.
Come back next week for more tips. If you’re a reader, what would you add to this list to encourage newer writers about what you love to see in books?