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How to Determine the Age of Your Target Reader

I wrote this post many years ago, but I continue to see a lot of problems with manuscripts that appear to be targeting an age-specific audience but that does not conform to those readers’ expectations. Are you aware of the ways to determine your target reader’s age group and what you need to include or exclude in your story to ensure you are on point? Read on.

You’re writing an intense novel about vampires. You’re exploring deep themes of family loyalty and courage. You believe adult readers will love this high-action somewhat violent novel.

But your protagonist is an eight-year-old boy who is struggling to deal with his new life in this not-so-brave new world.

This is a big problem.

And it’s similar to what I see week after week as I critique novels by aspiring writers.

I get that you have a killer idea and you’ve worked hard to come up with a great, compelling plot with lots of action and twists and complications. But before you began, did you even consider who your target audience might be? Continue Reading…

How to Add a “Secret” Ingredient to Your Story Premise

Your story premise needs to be compelling if you want to entice readers and keep them reading your book. Premise is more than a situation your character finds herself in. It’s all about what she does in response.

Before you get too far in writing any story, it’s important to take the time to craft a super premise, one that is unique and intriguing and has a great hook.

What’s a hook? you may ask. Opening lines are hooks, but we’re talking about your premise. The hook is that unique element that offers mystery and surprise. And that leads me to the topic of this post: surprise.

Mysteries, by definition, all have surprise in their story hook. The best mysteries confound readers and lead them to believe one character did the crime. But at the climax … surprise! It was someone you least expected. This genre centers on surprise to be successful. Continue Reading…

A Pig with a Thematic Purpose

Here’s another post on theme from 10 years ago. Theme is so important to your story, so I hope you learn ways to incorporate theme into your pages!

As we’re exploring theme here, I want to add a little aside about symbols. Tying symbols in with a theme is very powerful, and the movie Babe does a great job with the gate as a symbol throughout the movie. I imagine few people ever really notice the bit about the gate other than the way it adds a bit of plot and humor, but it serves as another theme by way of symbolism.

Symbols as Theme

Symbols are generally a visual object, but they can also be a thought, idea, phrase, or gesture. These can also be considered as motifs (Check out my blog posts on motifs and how to use them to enrich your story). But the great thing about symbols is they pack a lot of meaning in a simple way. When you use a symbol as a thematic element, you want it to reappear numerous times throughout your novel. Continue Reading…

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