How to you say politely ‘you missed the point’ to an author?

How to say you missed the point Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleI read a review copy for a fellow writer on his novel recently, and was horrified to find he’d not even paid attention to the basics of writing a book… So what key elements do you need to make your manuscript successful?

This author is semi successful, he has a number of books self-published, and I have to admit, the premise of his story is very intriguing. His writing style is easy to read and his pacing and action scenes are up there with the best of them. But I found myself continually frustrated. Some essential aspects to writing a novel had been ignored… and I was like, why? WHY!

How to say you missed the point Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Apologies if this post has started off as a little bit of a rant, but it leads us to an important question:

How to say you missed the point Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

How to say you missed the point Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle – yeah, I know, how could you miss this one? In the first chapter (maybe two) it’s important to build the world in which your protagonist lives. Introduce the main cast. Make your protagonist relatable in some respect so the reader invests their time in reading you book and the challenger he/she faces. Set up the challenges/quest/problem/whatever it is your character is about to set upon for the course of your novel… and show the stakes for failure.

How to say you missed the point Pic 06 by Casey CarlislePlace your protagonist through their paces. Set them challenges, have them fail, risk losing something important. This gives your character the chance to develop their motive, and develop as a person. All your characters should have a motive – a reason they are there, why they do what they do, and some objective they want to achieve. The more difficult you make it to achieve that goal, generally the more interesting the story.

Build the pace and tension (or angst). Put more and more pressure on your protagonist, each chapter should drive the story forward and increase the stakes for your main character. A series of cool action scenes does not a good book make.

The whole point of this is to lead up to a turning point for the character. A place in the story where the events of the novel have changed him/her in some significant way. This may or may not coincide with the climax of your story.

How to say you missed the point Pic 07 by Casey Carlisle – This is where all the really cool stuff goes down. It should be the most engaging part of you novel. It’s an all stakes battle, the part where your protagonist risks everything. Declaring their love for someone they are not sure will return the feelings, leaping from that cliff hoping their psychic abilities will finally help them fly, you get the picture. It should be epic. The quest, plot points resolved so that the reader is satisfied your protagonist has achieved what they set out to do: it doesn’t have to be a physical thing, like getting to the top of that mountain, it could be a spiritual journey, like a woman has finally accepted that it’s okay to be alone and that she doesn’t need a man to make her feel whole. Anything as long as you have made it clear in the beginning that this was your protagonists reason to start the journey in the first place.

You can leave some plot points open ended depending on your writing style, or if you are planning to write a series, but you need to resolve it enough to give the reader a  decent pay-off for investing their time in reading your book.

How to say you missed the point Pic 08 by Casey Carlisle

Now all of this may sound pretty obvious in writing a story – well, to me it does. But then I’ve studied Literature, read tons of books, and love to then discuss and critique what I read. Some authors don’t have that background and decide to write a novel with a view to self-publish. I say go for it! But please take the time to have a professional in the Literary or Publishing Industry look at your work.

Not all the points mentioned above apply to your manuscript, and there is still a plethora of points I’ve skipped. But it was this core basic concept that had been overlooked in this review copy, and let’s face it, you read one bad novel and that author is going to look unprofessional, and you’re unlikely to revisit any of his/her titles again.

Professionals will help identify clearly the big issues around plot, content, character development, etc. so why not use them? There are plenty of writing groups online and fellow authors who would extend a helping hand, so why not use that resource?

I love positivity and encouraging other writers – it’s important to have a nurturing space in order to hone our craft. But I think the biggest lesson from this experience was, not only to address the basics of storytelling, but not to rush into publishing your novel without it having gone through a decent editing/feedback process.

We all want to leave our mark on the world, share out story, so let’s give it the best possible chance to succeed.

We are okey!

UPPERCASE lowercase banner by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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7 thoughts on “How to you say politely ‘you missed the point’ to an author?

  1. DaniellaWrites says:

    Such accuracy. I’m happy that self-publication is an option for authors whose fantastic ideas may otherwise be overlooked by publishers. That being said, editing is such an important step to any story and self-publication can really hurt an author who can’t get a great editor or who isn’t willing or able to make necessary changes themselves.

    Sometimes, people are just too close to their own work to see the changes that should be made.

    • femaleinferno says:

      Thanks for commenting Daniella. It is a dilemma for those taking the self publishing route… their excitement over completing their manuscript can sometimes override the desire for it to go through a proper editing/scrutiny process; that, and spend the money on professional services. It’s this kind of behavior that leads to the glut of lower standard novels in the e-book market. Though, with the market becoming more and more competitive we may start to see that trend shrink.

      I’d love successful sale to be attributed to great writing, but good marketing and presentation/placement play a bigger role, and that too comes from the amount of money and time an author is willing to commit… publishing is such an involved beast, you really need a plan, budget and have some persistence.

      All the best in your writing journey 🙂

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