Archive for November, 2010

Write What Readers Want to Read

One of the questions I ask in my workshops is “Who do you write for? Yourself? The publisher? The reader?” Many authors make the mistake of writing for self or for the publisher. While writing for both are important, they are not as important as writing for the reader.

Look into the archives of your literary experience and you may recall a play by Shakespeare, one of the world’s most popular writers, called “As You Like It.” The title reveals why Shakespeare’s work is read and enjoyed hundreds of years after his passing. He understood what his audience liked and wanted and he gave it to them.

He wrote about things people could relate to, were curious about, and he wrote in everyday words people used and understood instead of trying to impress them with his high vocabulary.

One of Expert Publishing’s most successful authors is a colon cancer survivor. She writes about her medical experience, but more importantly, she writes about her new daily routine, the impact of her diagnosis on her relationships with her family members, her embarrassing as well as her triumphant moments dealing with her new life. She understands readers want to know more than the medical statistics, more¬† than the company line regarding what to tell new cancer patients, more than all the good that can come from adversity. Her first book sold thousands of copies and had multiple printings because she understands how important the reader is and honors that in her writing.¬† She’s now working on her fourth book, and she still keeps writing with the reader in mind.

What are you writing about? No matter what it is, you’re writing to a reader. Visualize that reader. Ask yourself, “What would the reader want to know?” Then answer the question to the best of your ability. That doesn’t mean you get bogged down in purple prose that makes the eyes glaze over. It means your writing relates to your reader on a level of two human beings communicating.

When you write, you are sending a message to your reader, but you’re not getting feedback the way you do when you’re communicating face to face with another person. Your job is to provide the reader sufficient information so he/she doesn’t have to fill in the blanks, especially since they can’t ask you for clarity.

I’m not suggesting you’ll become another Shakespeare, but I know you’ll create a fan base if you write what readers want to read.

Happy writing!

 

Use Anecdotes in Your Writing

Anecdotes are little stories or incidents that solidify specific points you’re making. Readers like anecdotes.

Since Expert Publishing publishes business, self-help, and inspiration books, our authors share their expertise and content and that’s valuable to readers. Sometimes, however, it’s important to break up the heavier content with stories that illustrate what the content means. Anecdotes do that. Win your readers over by offering stories that illustrate your concepts in an entertaining way.

You can use characters, dialogue, setting, or other devices in your anecdotes. People love stories and you’ll endear yourself to your reader if you use them appropriately.

So what do I mean by appropriately? One anecdote per point is sufficient.

The old saying goes that an expert uses one story to make one point. A wanna-be expert uses many stories to make the same point.

As important as stories are, too many ruin the writing. Think of stories as salt. Salt can work well to flavor food, but if you use too much, the food is no longer fit for consumption.You want your readers to consume your content.

How real do your anecdotes have to be? Are fictionalized anecdotes okay? I encourage you to use real stories, real examples, to prove or illustrate your point. Real offers more credibility than fabricated does.

As you write your book, be sure to include anecdotes. Your reader will appreciate the bits of entertainment tossed into the content.

Happy writing!

Deliver What You Promise

Writers use titles to make offerings to their readers. If the title interests the reader enough, the reader dives in and starts reading.

What really transpires is an offer, an acceptance, and end result of customer satisfaction (or lack thereof). The writer’s offer comes in the form of the title. The acceptance comes from the reading of the offer. The satisfaction depends on how close the work delivers what’s promised.

I was president of our local chapter of Sisters In Crime mystery writers group here in the Twin Cities for two years and met so many great mystery writers (male and female). It was great because I love reading mysteries. Romance? Not so much.

Several romance writers have crossed over into the mystery genre and brought their romance writing habits with them. Some write under a different name, presumably to not confuse the reader. I understand that. When a reader expects the author is writing a mystery, the reader isn’t expecting romance, so using a new name to write mysteries makes sense.

A few years ago, I picked up a mystery by J. D. Robb. It looked interesting. I bought it and began reading, then the romance stuff started. I couldn’t believe it. Agatha Christie never wrote like this! Granted, I didn’t research J. D. Robb before I plunked down money for her book, but when I finally did research her and discovered she is really Nora Roberts, I felt duped. Nora Roberts is a beloved romance writer, and I would have expected romance if her name was on the book. But it wasn’t. J. D. Robb’s name was.

Janet Evanovich also crossed over from romance novels to mysteries. But at least I know that, so if I get into a mystery and that romance stuff appears, I’m warned.

The point is you need to deliver to your reader what you promise. If the title of what you’re writing suggests content about American history, you better write about American history, not German history.

Deliver what you promise and you’ll have reading fans beyond measure.

Happy writing!