As a reader, I am looking for an interesting well-written story by an author who can describe people, places and events and draw me into the story.
As a writer, I like to provide my readers with an escape – a few hours where they go into someone else’s life and forget about their troubles. If they can laugh or cry when reading the book then I have touched them without preaching to them.
The mistake that a lot of new writers make is getting too bogged down in description or wanting to write a critically acclaimed tome or a ‘big’ book – one with lots of pages to make the work seem worthy. What’s the point of waffling on for extra pages if you are boring your reader and really have nothing worthwhile to say.
I get a lot of feedback from readers that my books are ‘a great read’, they ‘gallop along at a terrific pace’ and ‘I read it in one sitting’. This is exciting feedback. It means that I have achieved my goal of providing an entertaining read and, unless you are an academic who is writing educational material, this is what all books should do. My aim is always to entertain and inform. Because I write historical fiction, months of research go into each book, followed by months of writing and weeks of editing, re-writing and proofing before going off to the publisher.
If you are a very serious writer you may be prepared to spend years writing your seminal work, your magnum opus, that will sit on someone’s bookshelf getting dusty. If you want to appeal to a mass market then romance is still a very popular genre. However, if you want to write a novel that entertains, you need to come up with a rollicking story with engaging characters and place them into situations that challenge readers but don’t weight them down. Pace is very important in telling a good story. You don’t need to repeat information – your readers are intelligent people – just enhance what you have already said with each new sentence you write. It takes time and practise to achieve this, but like everything worthwhile, the more you put into your craft the more benefits you will reap in the long run. Write, read, edit, hone, re-write and give it time. Nobody gets it right the first time.