Did you get your royalty statement? I did and I was very surprised to see fairly large number of readers started my novels, but did not read through. How could they meet my hero and heroine and not want to know their story?
The author chatter online ranged from hot to cold. Some commented that if those people had bought the book, it would be counted as a sale, not as pages read. Others noted that people might not have even tried it at all if they had to pay the full price. I admit I experienced every emotion, but came to one conclusion or rather question. Why hadn’t the readers felt compelled to continue?
While I wish I could ask that question to those readers, it’s not possible so here’s what I am doing to help prevent that from happening so often with my next book:
Years ago, South Louisiana Romance Writers (SOLA) had a contest called “The Schwegmann.” Schwegmann was a large local grocery store. The premise was if someone is standing in line at the grocery and picks up a novel, they would read the back blurb and maybe the first five pages. Would they be compelled to buy it? Great idea, right? Yes, of course, but now the Schwegmann test has to seduce the reader to read even more pages, not to be able to put that book down.
What am I going to do with my new WIP? When I start a new novel, I usually begin my process with Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation and Conflict. This book is so ingrained in the writers’ minds that it is known only by the initials GMC. In striving to write the best book I can, I’ve also used The Hero’s Journey. These two incredible instructions books intertwine with each other well.
However, I was still having problems. I signed up for a class that compared plotting and quilting. As a quilter and visual person, this made perfect sense to me. Each character had his or her own specific color. With computers, it is so easy to make a patchwork quilt of characters and plot points with color. At a meeting, one of the SOLA members expanded this idea by using colored sticky notes on a bulletin board. Again, this is visual and large enough to use at a quick glance.
All of the above are my previous methods and worked very well, except at certain places in the story, I am stuck. I worry about the “sagging middle” – both on me and on my WIP. Since I am concerned about it, is this where the Amazon readers stop, put down the Kindle and download something else?
I was back at the drawing board when I noticed another online class called “The Deep Story.” While I’m not finished learning this method and haven’t applied it to my WIP, I am excited about the prospects. “The Deep Story” wraps plot, characters, secondary characters, dialogue and even the audience into one system. The instructor even suggested the emotional link by gender to the story ending. I’ve always used the ticking clock method, but The Deep Story explained that this is a good build-up to the end when men are the readers, but women prefer no options left for the female. I never thought about that. I had always used the ticking clock. Now I need to rethink, replot my story using all the steps and templates. This is a lot harder than writing as a “pantser,” but I think I have to try it.
No one system is perfect for everyone. But I see how I might be having a problem keeping the reader invested in the story and characters. That is an obstacle I plan to conquer. Like the Hero’s Journey, this is my “Writer’s Journey” and with practice I don’t see how I can fail.
I wanted to include a picture since I am a visual person and I feel many of you are too. This picture is a quilt by my great-grandmother. It’s a wedding ring quilt probably made at the Turn of the Century. Oh, the 20th Century, not the 21st.