Finding your focus when writing a novel can be tricky but it’s essential. I’ve read some self-published books with great story ideas and beautiful writing, but the focus wasn’t there, and that made it a chore to keep reading. To avoid this, a writer needs to know what kind of book they’re writing, which I’ve reduced down to three groups. This isn’t about genres but aims and direction. It’s about the driving force of a book and what makes it intriguing, so for example, romance or comedy books might contain elements of all three types.
The three groups are: Character Study, Plot-based and Literary.
This type of novel doesn’t need to have a lot happening outside the character’s mind, because inside is where the intrigue lies.
The aim: There needs to be a change of some kind. A sense the character is growing if they start out unpleasant, or becoming tougher if they’re a push-over.
Pitfalls: There’s a danger the author gets so caught up in the mind of their creation, they forget to put in any events at all.
This usually contains genres like mystery, thriller, and action. The characters don’t need to change, and personalities can be summed up in a few words.
The aim: The interest lies in the series of events that happen, leading to a revelation, event or twist. The pacing is very important, a useful trick is to think of the book as a sequence of questions that get slowly answered. If it’s only a series of unconnected events, then that gets dull very quickly.
Pitfalls: There have been so many mysteries written, almost every twist has already been used.
A literary novel can break whatever rules it wants. A character can go round in circles without change, the events can happen without reason
The aim: It needs to fulfill literary criteria – the writing has to be beautiful or unique, or the style must challenge traditions in a totally new way. The writer must be one of a kind and brilliant, it’s not simply about good writing.
Pitfalls: This isn’t a style of writing common in the self-publishing world and it’s generally a hard sell.
Petra Jacob had her first book, Riddled with Senses, published by Dr Cicero Books last year. It’s a magic realism tale of love, drugs and witchcraft.
She has just self-published the book Peddling Doomsday, which is about a cult run by a charismatic female leader. It has elements of all three groups listed above. Link here mybook.to/PeddlingDoomsday
During her haphazard life she’s lived in a condemned bedsit in Cambridge, a gated community in Mexico City, a rainforest in Central America and a derelict haunted house in South America. Currently she works as a gardener in Central London, but likes to escape to the jungle whenever possible. Jacob has a particular fondness for monkeys, slime mould and cake.
Her blog of stories and self-publishing tips can be found here https://inkbiotic.com/
On Facebook, here https://www.facebook.com/inkbiotic/