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Hacking Your Reader’s Brain

Man concentrating

Today’s guest post is by Jeff Gerke, award-winning author, former book publisher, and writing instructor. I heard Jeff give a talk on this topic and was enthralled. Be prepared to learn something that will blow you away—the truth about reader engagement. His topic ties in wonderfully with what our editors have been examining all month—Fatal Flaw #7: Lack of Pacing and Tension. Jeff provides a whole other way of understanding why our fiction often lacks these crucial elements.

What makes a novel a best seller? What makes it something readers careen through, staying up until three in the morning to finish? What causes readers to tell all their friends they have to read a given novel?

Now, I would wish the answer to be “excellent fiction craftsmanship.” I would like to report that the secret to a novel’s success is the hard work and disciplined training of the writer. Converting telling to showing, keeping that point of view consistent, replacing all those flabby “to be” verbs and “–ly” adverbs with their fitter, punchier alternatives.

Yes, I would like to report that, but I can’t. Continue Reading…

Targeting Genre with the KDSPY Kindle App

KDSPY logo

Recently I wrote some posts on targeting genre for big sales, as this is a topic that I’ve been very interested in, personally, for years. I always wondered just how much genre had to do with a novel’s success, and when I did my “experiment” a couple of years ago by writing in a genre that purportedly “sold itself,” I proved to myself (and perhaps to many others) that genre really matters. (If you didn’t read my blog post on The Book Designer that went viral in the writing world, take a look at it here. )

My aim was to write a novel that carefully fit a big-selling genre and see if it would sell with little effort on my part. I used a pen name, and although I did a little bit of marketing—similar to what a new author would do—I was astounded by the sales I saw. Way more than all the sales I got from my other half dozen self-published novels.

Whether You’re in It for the Money or Not

You might not care about making money off your books. But some of us have families to support and bills to pay. I felt guilty for years writing novel after novel that didn’t sell, “wasting precious time” (my assessment) when I could have been working at Wal-Mart for minimum wage and at least bringing some money in. Continue Reading…

How Novelists Can Make “Unbelievable” Stories Feel Real

woman with magic

I’m honored to have Michael Hauge share a guest post with Live Write Thrive today. Michael has been a top Hollywood script consultant, story expert, and author for more than thirty years, and he is personally one of the greatest influences in both my fiction writing and my method of teaching novel structure. I asked Michael to speak specifically on this topic of credibility in story, so here are his gems of wisdom:

I recently consulted with a screenwriter who complained when I told him his screenplay lacked credibility. “Movies aren’t ever real,” he argued. “Is it believable that zombies could take over the world in World War Z, or that a princess could make everything freeze in Frozen? Is it even believable that Denzel Washington could kill all those bad guys in The Equalizer?!”

My answer to him was “Yes, it is.” 

Why do audiences and readers “believe” these fictional stories, and just what does credibility really mean in the make-believe world of movies and fiction?

Understanding the answer can help storytellers—novelists and screenwriters alike—tell stories that feel wholly credible, despite fantastical components. Continue Reading…

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