If my readers have skimmed through my blurb and picked up my book, I know that their interest is piqued. However, from hereon, it’s my responsibility to ensure my readers do not want to throw away my novel or regret reading it. It’s impossible to please every reader, but here are five things I don’t want them to feel.
This is my checklist when I read my own work before publishing it. If I feel that my readers are thinking any of the following, I rewrite the particular parts of the story. Please note this is my personal opinion as a reader and writer.
- ‘I’m bored.’
If my readers feel bored after reading the first few pages of my book, I have not started with a bang. I have wasted time feeding them information that they don’t need. My story should be entertaining and engaging, leaving them wanting more.
My book’s beginning is critical because it’s available for free on ‘first look’ or ‘sample.’ It determines whether my readers will purchase my work. To guarantee they hit the ‘buy’ button, I must intrigue them and make them curious about what will happen next.
- ‘I’m confused.’
If my story has too many dimensions or plot holes, I’m bound to confuse my readers. I could also puzzle them if I have introduced too many points of view or have missed the continuity between scenes.
If my plot is too confusing, my readers will not finish my book, and they won’t recommend it to their friends. I need to remove the irrelevant parts and mend plot holes so that they complete my novel.
- ‘I don’t feel anything for your characters.’
If my readers are apathetic toward my characters, I need to rewrite them. The people in my story must be relatable with flaws. They should not be unbelievably perfect characters that no one can connect with.
Instead of labeling my characters as ‘good,’ ‘bad, etc., it’s better to let my readers judge by showing my protagonists’/antagonists’ actions. Hence, I will have the freedom to write multi-dimensional people who are more believable than absolute villains.
- ‘I feel depressed after reading this.’
If my readers can’t sleep after reading my book because it’s making their stomachs churn, I need to restart my novel. The reason I write fiction is that I’m the owner of my story and the characters. I can choose to make my protagonists endlessly or make them fight and overcome all odds. My choice is always the latter.
As a reader, I despise stories with no positivity. They haunt me to the extent that I write alternate endings for them for my own peace. Hence, as a writer, I must never put my readers through this distress.
- ‘So what.’
After finishing my book, if my readers say ‘so what,’ my writing has no purpose, or the message is not clear. If the message is not clear, I must refine the narrative and the scenes to portray it better. However, if the story has no purpose, I must delete it and rewrite it.
When I start writing a novel, the first step is to get the purpose well-defined in a single line. If I can answer the question, ‘what am I trying to convey?’, I must move forward with the plot; otherwise, there is no point in writing the book.
What are the other things you don’t want your readers to feel when they read your work? Please let me know in the comments below.