Writing an Irresistable Book

In part three of the writing tips from Martine Leavitt’s workshop group, Chris Johnson  provides great notes from from Jennifer Nielsen’s afternoon presentation, Ten Tips for Writing an Irresistible Book. If you’ve read THE FALSE PRINCE, you know Jennifer Nielsen knows how to apply these tips with a masterful hand.

1. Create a great hero.

  • Has to be in trouble, but not stupid trouble.
  • Likely to lose.
  • Has a goal.
  • Has a fatal flaw.
  • Deserves success because of positive traits.

2. Create a great villain.

  • Either another man, nature, or self.
  • Must be a round character.
  • Likely to win.
  • Has an advantage the hero lacks.

3. Add mystery or a “big question.”

4. Keep your plot moving forward. (Foreshadow negative possibilities.)

5. Exploit relationships.

  • Create tension (romance, friction, ego).
  • Betrayal.
  • Suspicion.
  • Loss of mentor.
  • Loss of other valued relationships.
  • Inner demons.

6. Raise the stakes.
Hero’s fortune must rise and fall, but mostly get worse.

7. Shorten the timeline.

  • Remind the hero constantly.
  • Cut the time in half.
  • Slow down key scenes by filling them with rich detail.

8. Create unexpected turns.

  • Sometimes the reader sees it coming but the hero doesn’t.
  • Sometimes the hero sees it coming but the reader doesn’t.
  • Sometimes no one sees it coming.
  • It has to be logical.

9. Create a dangerous setting–it doesn’t have to be physical danger, and it doesn’t have to be epic.

10. Dilemmas are lovely. (i.e. Jean Valjean’s moral dilemma)

And finally, 
Great suspense comes from being a cruel writer.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. beccabirkin

    A cruel writer means you’re willing to let your character experience hard things. If we spare them everything, it’s a boring book, right?

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