Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Promises, Promises by Marie Wells Coutu

Your story is a promise.

If you’re writing fiction, you’re making a promise to your reader that he or she will find entertainment, adventure, and perhaps inspiration in your novel. The reader expects to be transported to another time and place, where she’ll “meet” interesting characters.

If you write romance, she’ll want to fall in love with the hero.

If you write science fiction, your reader wants to discover new worlds.

Readers of historical fiction may expect to experience life in an earlier time period.

In addition, your tagline, your back-cover blurb, your cover, and your opening line all contribute to your promise. Each one helps to set expectations, create a mood, and entice the reader.

What happens if you fail to fulfill your promises? If the tagline hints at romance, but the hero doesn’t show up until midway through the story, the reader is likely to be disappointed. If the cover appears to show adventure but the story is a slow, relaxing tale set in an Amish community, there will be a disconnect—and the reader is likely to throw the book across the room.

How can you be sure you’re fulfilling the expectations of your readers?

1. Be clear in your own mind what your story is about.

2. Know what genre best fits the story. To be sure, brainstorm what your plot might look like if you wrote it in a different genre. For instance, does your romantic suspense plot work better as a fantasy instead? Or as a military thriller? If the answer is “no” to all the other genres, you’ve got the right one.

3. Be familiar with the primary conventions of your genre. You don’t need to shoehorn your story into a formula, but if you’re writing a romance, your readers expect a HEA (Happily Ever After), so you need to give them that kind of ending.

4. Determine your primary Story Question, write it down, and post it where you’ll see it when you’re writing each scene. Then pay attention to whether the scene contributes to answering that question.

If you take these steps, chances are good you’ll fulfill the expectations of your readers. Live up to the promises you make with each story and your readers will likely come back for more.

Your story promises entertainment, adventure, & perhaps inspiration. 4 tips to fulfill your #promise. #amwriting #writingtips @mwcoutu @MaryAFelkins

Marie Wells Coutu finds beauty in surprising places, like old houses, gnarly trees, and forgotten treasures. When she’s not writing about finding restoration and healing through God-designed journeys, she enjoys taking broken things and making them useful.

The Secret Heart, her newest release, was named a finalist in both the 2018 National Excellence in Romantic Fiction Awards and the 2018 Royal Palm Literary Awards sponsored by Florida Writers Association. Her debut novel, For Such a Moment, won the Books of Hope Contest. Thirsting for More, the second book in the series was a finalist in the Selah Awards Contest and a semi-finalist in the Royal Palm Literary Awards. An unpublished historical novel set near Golden Pond has been a finalist in five contests.

You can find more about Marie and her novels on her Facebook author page, her website, MarieWellsCoutu.com or follow her on Twitter or on Amazon.com

2 comments:

  1. Terrific wisdom here, Marie. We do make promises to our readers and need to deliver. Cover is one of the biggest ways we promise something and the inside story should coincide with it. Thanks for detailing these essential points.

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