As an aspiring writer and an avid reader, I want to mesh the two worlds together. I want to write something worth reading. In order to do that, I began thinking about what I need to see and experience in the books I read.
Authors like Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, and George R.R. Martin create entire worlds. They have a talent and a necessary commitment to detail that is beyond me. They stepped inside their imaginations and produced universes we wish were real, iconic characters, and literature perfect for cinematic gold. Their worlds are believable, genuine, and beloved worldwide. I don’t have a knack for the type of writing where I step into something and some place that I have never been. They are creative writers with a heavy emphasis on creative. However, I think they do 5 things that we want to see in books that has nothing to do with the unique worlds they have constructed.
What they do, what I aim to do, and I think all readers NEED from authors is:
- Tell a story that engages readers from the beginning through to the end. The worst feeling for me as a reader is leaving a story before the end. I don’t want to be the writer whose book is cast aside either. Rowling, Tolkien, and Martin have multiple installments, yes. But they have clear vision for their stories and each characters in it.
- Create characters the reader cares about or loves to hate. Why do women love Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice? Why are we so intrigued with the Lannisters from Game of Thrones? Why do we adore Hermione Granger? Strong protagonists and fantastic supporting characters are key. The villains are complex and intriguing. Everyone in the story has multiple dimensions begging to be discovered (just like real people).
- Have a plot that readers think about even when they put the book down. There are few books that hold that power over me. But when it happens, it’s a book I can’t wait to return to and rediscover the magic all over again. The three authors I mentioned have movies/tv series aiding in that, sure. There are several other books that I can think of that make me recommend it to friends so I can have someone to talk about it with! That’s the type of book we crave, one that fosters community and engagement.
- Be believable. Despite the heavy creative aspect in Tolkien’s, Rowling’s, and Martin’s worlds, we buy those worlds they created. We step inside the story and we don’t want to leave. Nothing bothers me more than reading a book where I just don’t buy what the author is selling. Even fiction that’s merely about human experience and a character’s story (whether it be through illness, through relationship, though business, etc.) should be believable.
- Touch human emotions. The previous four are accomplished through this. Period. There has to be a human connection somewhere in the story. Or why would we read fiction at all? When you can tap into raw emotion and experience, you unlock power on paper. When this doesn’t happen in fiction, it’s a flop.