Readers often do not know what they want to read, but are attracted by book covers, titles, back copy, and first chapters for their next book choice. Once the reader finishes the first chapter they then decide to continue reading the book or put it down.
What causes the reader to continue reading a book?
Assuming our books have passed the test of intriguing title, cover, back copy, and first chapter, the content will hold the success of the book in it's hands. Perhaps a reader didn't plan to choose your book, but a friend recommended it. The content will still have the power to keep the reader turning pages or bury the book in the someday-I'll-read-it pile. This content must be written from the author's heart.
During 2012, I committed to reading one book for each Writer's Alley Post. I then used a point of excellence from the book to present my post. I thought it most fitting to start the New 2013 Year using the greatest book ever published as the example of how to write from your heart.
God wrote one book for us, the Bible. He shows His heart through His words, guiding, teaching, warning, and etc, yet The Bible is not a textbook. It was written from God's heart.
1. God considered the needs of His audience. If my personal needs are addressed in a book I will not only continue reading, but I will want to go back and reread. I will also want to tell my friends and even strangers about the book so they too can benefit from it.
2. God allowed no errors in His book. One of God's goal was/is to portray the Truth, expectations, directions, information, examples, and etc. To do so meant from page one to the last page all words were specifically chosen to express the exact meaning intended. As human writers, we will have to edit our books many times to work towards a product that conveys the intended meaning.
God provided a proof to demonstrate which sections were to be contained in His book. Every book from the Old Testament is quoted somewhere in the New Testament. This proof verifies the words and content to be from God's heart to us. As a writer I need to provide proof from the beginning to the middle and to the end of the book's consistency. I need to make sure my character's eyes don't change color, their hair and height is correct, the setting does not change, etc. For example, if the living room is on the right in the beginning of the story, keep it there. This is not the editor's job. Readers need to not be pulled out of the story with inaccuracies.
3. God's Word contains passionate stories illustrating truths. Our books need to contain passionate stories. Passion comes from the heart. Each story must be filled with passion whether it is a war story or a southern romance. Passion stirs the soul, causes a reader to identify, compels him/her to change, and solicit others to participate.
4. God's writing is tight, telling only what is essential. I've often wondered what the rest of the story was for different parts of the Bible. One pastor said from the pulpit, "God could have said what happened next but that information would not have benefited us as the readers. He included only what we needed to know." God expects us to meditate on His Words to learn more. As writers we need to RUE, resist the urge to explain. Concisely and succinctly present a passionate story containing truths. Do not fill pages with introspection. Allow the reader to think about the story and draw their conclusions.
5. God wrote what He knew. Of course God knows everything, but the point is writers need to write what they know. If a WIP requires a scene about something you don't know really well, research. I am not a medical person, yet medical issues crop up in my stories. Recently I asked my husband, who is a medical person, what a charge nurse would do if a belligerent drunk wondered into the emergency room and passed out. After writing the scene I confirmed with him my word choice. Don't guess. Readers will put down books written with suppositions that don't ring true.
How else does God's book teach us as writers?
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Mary has moved to Michigan with her husband, closer to her three college kids. She misses the mountains of Montana, but loves seeing family more often. She writes contemporary Christian fiction with a focus on the homeless population and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids.
Finalist Phoenix Rattler Writing Contest 2012 (winners announced 2013)
Semi finalist Clash of the Titans, Olympia Writing Contest 2012 (finalists announced 2013)
Finalist Christmas Tree Writing Contest 2012