When was the last time you recommended a book by saying any of the following?
“Boy, the grammar was spot on – what a read!”
“Most of the dialogue was just like real life.”
“There were literally no plot holes – I totally believe that situation, or something very similar and just as cohesive, could happen in real life.”
When you’re really affected a book, you’re more likely to shout:
“Holy donkey jizz, that was totes amazeballs”†
*sob* *whimper* ajaa carr reeo writ noooooooooo *sniff*
“I need to have a moment alone”
“Fuck yeah! Donkey Kong!”
…and other such assorted nonsense.
When you read a good book, a great book – a book you can’t live without now you’ve experienced it – you don’t react in a normal way. You don’t nod and smile, you freeze and panic and stroke the book against your face in a pitiful attempt to absorb some of the soft squidgy goodness inside. A part of you is lost forever after reading that final page, but something from the book will take it’s place.
So when you’re writing your novel you need to recall this feeling at all times. Sure, great grammar and realistic characters are a must but the real key to writing a good book is to put on a show *jazz hands*
Give ’em the old…razzle dazzle,
Razzle dazzle ’em…
More than words on a page you need that certain something that transforms paper and ink into dreams and magic. You don’t want your readers to say they enjoyed your story, because that means they’re acknowledging it as a story. You want them to run through the streets, proclaiming their love for your characters – searching high and low for the MC so they can go adventuring together.
You want them to be bedridden for weeks afterwards because you’ve killed off a character they fell hopelessly in love with.
Give ’em an act with lots of flash in it,
And the reaction will be passionate.
That doesn’t come from grammar or form or voice – that comes from the magic between the lines. Brew potions and tonics with your keyboard. Scratch pencil across page and create elixirs and snake oils.
Give ’em the old hocus pocus,
Bead and feather ’em,
How can they see with sequins in their eyes?
A good writer has to be part wizard – I can’t tell you the magic words or point you in the direction of a good wand substitute because it will be different in each case. That’s part of the fun, finding out what works for you. It’s part of the journey you have to take to become successful – and boy are you going to have fun on that journey!
Make mistakes – and lots of them. Use every weapon in your arsenal then bodge together some more, MacGyver style, and fire them as well. You won’t know what works and what doesn’t until you’ve tried everything in your power.
Show ’em the first rate sorcerer you are,
Long as you keep ’em way off balance,
How can they spot you’ve got no talent?
Razzle dazzle ’em…
And they’ll make you a star!
† This is how the cool kids talk, right?