This week, Jeff, Jo, and Lindsay talked about the craft side of things and how to write stories that are compelling and that will make readers want to keep plunking down money for more of your books. We argued that books that aren’t written to market and don’t hit on popular tropes may need to be better crafted to succeed, but that if you’re able to gain a readership, those readers may be more loyal in the end and follow you from project to project, as opposed to readers who are just looking for X type of stories and don’t care who wrote them.
Here are a few more details on what we covered:
- Pretty prose vs compelling stories.
- Creating characters that people care about and want to follow from book to book.
- What makes a sympathetic and relatable character?
- The importance of believable characters and why it’s good to avoid a “Mary Sue” (or “Marty Stu”).
- Remembering that your protagonists should change and grow (or cause others to change and grow) over the course of a book and also a series.
- The importance of a mix of internal and external conflict and the idea of “the human heart in conflict with itself” being at the core of good fiction.
- Avoiding throwing in random battles with bad guys or other obstacles that could seem contrived because they have little to do with the plot.