Excerpted from “The Top 10 Elements of a Book People Want to Read” by Helga Schier, PhD

From the Writer’s Digs by Brian Klems, Guest Column | March 16, 2015, Helga Schier, PhD: So you’ve got a great idea and you want to write a book. Go for it, I say, because these days, anyone can publish a book. Self-publishing empowers the writer in all of us. Nonetheless, quality still matters. Why? Because we don’t just want to publish, we want to publish successfully; we want to publish books people want to read. And that takes more than a good idea. That takes craft.


I’ve listed the headings of her ten elements below and offered my interpretation of how to apply them to my writing. If you are reading this, your input is welcome. How would you apply her 10 elements to your writing?
Dr. Schier says: Aim for High Readability (i.e. High readability books are “polished, refined, sophisticated, and mature” in “surface structure, style and voice, and content.”

[Did you know there are 7 reasons writing a novel makes you a badass? Read about them here.]

I haven’t reached my hoped for sales levels on my kindle book offering of “Beware the Sleeping Dog”. Cassandra Becker in Goodreads wrote of my mystery: “Really liked the character development as well as the writer’s descriptions of scenery, conflicted emotions, and untangling of old business.” I loved her comment but her 3 stars out of 5 tell me I have work to do on my current manuscript. But where do I focus? How do I apply the unspoken? Continue reading

Advertisements

An Afternoon of Conviviality

Question: With an investigative reporter’s flair, Peggy opened the discussion by asking, “Was ‘Beware the Sleeping Dog’ about you?”
Answer: I tap-danced around that a little. I said writing fiction is much like acting on a stage. In order to capture responses and emotions, I become each of the characters. And the characters become me. Fiction is a combination of what the author has heard, experienced, read, and imagined. To take it one step further, I think many authors write their debut novel because they are driven to do so by some life event. They write the next book simply for the love of writing. Continue reading

Building Suspense

I just read an article in “The Writer’s Dig” by Brian Klems that particularly tweaked my interest. It was an interview of Elizabeth Simms, the author of The Lillian Byrd Crime and the Rita Farmer Mysteries series, on how to build suspense in your writing. There were actually twenty-one points of value, several of which I highlight here.

Fray an end. … On the page, little odd things that are not quite in order can create a subtle sense of tension in any scene. Think dangling apron strings, a guttering candle, a loose window latch, a jammed copy machine.

To me Louise Penny does that masterfully in Still Life. The example I’ve chosen is not subtle like a guttering candle but yet is an oddity that fueled my imagination: “Gamanche wondered about this woman who had chosen to live with so many secrets for so long, then chosen to let them all out. And died because of it? That was the question.”

In my mystery Beware the Sleeping Dog, I used it (hopefully with success). I.e. “Velcro peeked at me through the slit (in the box springs). I pulled her out and held her close. Her ears twitched and she swallowed a few times before she relaxed into my arms. She’d never behaved like this before. Had something frightened her?” and “It seemed strange that nothing else but the picture of the three of us was disturbed. Premonition pricked at me, but I shook it off.” Continue reading