|By Antonio Litterio
It's one thing to have a great idea and write about it, but what works for you may not work for other people. That doesn't matter if you're only writing for your own pleasure. If you're aiming for publication, then you'll have to get crafty. Think like a reader, and keep these three points in mind:
CONVICTION: Whether you're writing non-fiction or a novel, a short story or saga you've got to Believe in your work - note that capital B. Making up your mind to put your thoughts down on paper is a big decision. You may or may not be aiming to get published one day, but the more faith you have in your idea, the better your work will be. Spelling and grammar can always be tidied up with redrafts and revisions, but if your writing doesn't have heart, it hasn't got a hope.
CHALLENGE: Don’t do all the work for your readers. Add twists and turns to make them think. Give them clues, drip feed information and build tension, whether dramatic or sexual, all the time. Engage their interest, and they'll keep reading. Strap them into an emotional roller-coaster, and push them out of their comfort zone. And challenge their beliefs and their assumptions by all means – just don’t challenge their ability to finish your book.
CARE: Don’t insult your readers' intelligence. They come from all walks of life. They’re all individuals, too. Your writing could attract either a roadsweeper with a PhD, or a high court judge with no common sense at all. You can’t generalise about your readers, so write as well as you can. Then take care with your editing, to make sure you produce something that everyone can enjoy–whoever they are, and whatever their qualifications