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9 Things Your Readers Want You to Know Before You Start Writing Your Fiction Novel

by Miranda Jaensch 2 years ago in list

Your potential audience is important to consider when developing, writing, and publishing your novel, whatever the genre may be. Here are some tips to ensure you don't forget about them along the way!

A List From an Experienced, Wanna-Be Author

I wrote my first novel at age eight and I still haven’t been published (no rejections if you’re too nervous to submit – right?) but there are somethings about writing them that I’ve either picked up on my own over the years or I’ve been lucky enough to learn from some incredibly talented (and mostly local) authors. One of things I’ve been asking people of this craft recently is what their biggest tip is on getting a full novel published in any form. Besides self-publishing, their answers have all somehow touched on being in tune with who your audience will be. If your intent for your novel is to be read, you need to make sure you have a group of readers you’re targeting with the message of your novel.

I’ve compiled the list below as a tool to guide you, should you find it helpful, through thinking of your readers as you also go through the process of creating, developing, and writing your novel. By being more in tune to the interest of your potential audience, the more of your audience it has the chance to reach.

1: Focus Your Field

Romance? Fantasy? Your readers need to know where to find your book if you want them to read it; it’s easier to be directed to the mystery section or be referred to a great spiritual novel their friend read on their Kindle last week if you’re book has a solid genre. Clarify which genre is the best fit for the characters, plot, and setting in your novel. It’s fine to have underlying themes or subplots that stray away from your main genre, but having a clear idea of who your main target audience is will be will make it much simpler when writing your character development, building your world (especially for fantasy novels), and driving home your main message with the plot.

2: Build it Big

Make sure you have a dramatic, high-concept idea. Your readers want something new and interesting – but as a writer, you should know that’s nearly impossible. What is possible, though, is to make an old idea or concept your own; you do that by building off of the old foundations, a renovation, if you will, working your way up to the frame, the structure and support, and then the finishing details. Remember, it’s easier to take things out of your plotline and narrow your main themes and message as you work from an overly exaggerated concept than to try and fluff up your novel to make it seem like more after you’re done.

3: Give Your Readers Someone to Love…

If you don’t love your lead, your readers won’t either – thus, they probably won’t finish the book. By making sure you have a sympathetic main character, even if their flaws are loathsome or your novel is arcing on your protagonists’ redemption/character growth, giving them some characteristics for your readers to easily empathize with will strengthen your protagonist’s realism and their development overall.

4: … And Someone to Hate

As much as you love your lead, you must equally despise your villain. If you have too many soft spots for your villain in your writing, it shows doubt in your protagonist. Your readers need to be certain of who they’re rooting for and why – especially why they should care enough to stick around for the resolution. Your lead needs a worthy opponent for his/her/their development and natural progression through the plot of your novel; they need something big enough to fight for – whether the villain is a person, an obstacle, or even the protagonist themselves.

5: Make It Messy

Complicate things for your protagonist – things aren’t ever that easy for anyone in real life. A subplot keeps the reader even more engaged and adds depth to your protagonist’s character arc. A subplot is also a great way to incorporate details about your other characters, main plot, and setting that wouldn’t necessarily be relevant or beneficial if added when focusing solely on the main plotline.

6: Twist it Up!

You don’t want to overdo it with plot twists – that can actually weaken your novel and confuse your readers. But a solid three twists or surprises throughout the novel keeps things interesting. The more the twists relate back to the plot or characters’ developments, the more effective they are.

7: Save the Best for Last

Keep your readers on their toes! If they’re still with you after the introduction, keep them hungry for more; don’t give them answers or resolutions too easily or too soon, as a drawn-out novel that should have ended fifty pages before isn’t the type that typically make the shelves. By resolving the most important story threads for last, you’re more likely to ensure your reader’s interest until your conclusion.

8: Stay in Viewpoint

You don’t have to have to write from the point of view of multiple characters for your novel to convey the perspective or views of others. Besides your protagonist, you should have several other significant characters whose actions and relationships with the protagonist and others showcase different details in the plot, setting, and the other characters development other than your main character’s. This gives your readers reason to think and gives you another opportunity to express any parts of your message and themes that aren’t always the main focus in your plot.

9: And… Action!

When writing a novel, you’re going to make sure you stick to writing mostly action mode. Ever heard the phrase, “show, don’t tell”? Well, it’s true – it’s amazing how much can be conveyed to your readers through simple details in your characters actions and reactions, the changes in your setting, and the twists and turns of your plot. That being said, there is also the rule of thumb: show emotions, tell feelings. By writing mostly in action mode, you ensure the plot of the novel moves along in a natural pace. It’s easier to add in dialogue into significant scenes or where an exchange may benefit the action of the novel than it is to get stuck because you were focusing on writing a conversation that just went dead on you.


Miranda Jaensch

woman; reader, writer, sometimes teacher, mother, lover, fighter, sister, daughter, partner, and friend.

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