Writing Fiction: 3 Quick Tips To Create Satisfying Reads

Creating a satisfying story is a big challenge when you’re writing fiction. In a recent writers’ group meeting, we discussed reader satisfaction.

“I love thrillers and adventure stories,” one author said, “but everything I’ve read lately is all about the plot. The characters are either TSTL (too stupid to live) or are a bunch of Mary Sues. I’ve gone back to rereading my favorites. I’m tired of puppet characters.”

What makes a character a Mary Sue?

She, (or he, as a Marty Stu) is an idealized person. They’re spectacular. Not only do they have spectacular looks, and everyone loves them, but they’re also amazingly accomplished.

You’ll find Mary Sues and Marty Stues in every genre, often in bestsellers.

So what makes a satisfying read when you’re writing fiction?

How to create a satisfying read

We made a list of what makes us happy readers. It includes:

  • Characters with whom we identify. They’re motivated—and flawed.
  • Strong imagery, so that we’re immersed in the story.
  • A plot that grows from the characters.
  • Novelty: we learn something when we’re reading.

Readers also love humor and animals.

Consider Jane Austen’s barbed humor; it’s stood the test of centuries. Include a touch of humor if you can.

Animals help to ensure a great read, too. From P.G. Wodehouse’s Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves:

The dog Bartholomew gave me an unpleasantly superior look as they moved off, as if asking me if I were saved

Let’s look at three tips.

1. Remember your characters: motivate them

On one level, motivation is simple: what does a character want?

You need more. From Write Fiction: 3 Easy Tips To Develop Your Characters’ Motivation:

When you motivate your characters, aim for deep motivation — give your characters strong motivation so that they’ll fight for what they want.

Motivating your characters is hard. You can give a character something they want badly, but the best motivation is internal.

I like the idea of two plots and internal motivation:

Chances are that while you’re writing, you’re aware that your plot isn’t working, but you don’t know how to fix it. The solution is to look at your main character’s internal storyline.

2. Create strong imagery, so that we’re immersed in the story

As readers, we want to be there, right in the story.

From Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel:

So: Stephen Gardiner. Going out, as he’s coming in. It’s wet, and for a night in April, unseasonably warm, but Gardiner wears furs, which look like oily and dense black feathers; he stands now, ruffling them, gathering his clothes about his tall straight person like black angel’s wings.

And from Chill Factor, by Sandra Brown:

The wind velocity had increased noticeably. Trees were taking a beating, their naked branches clacking together like rhythm sticks in the fierce wind. It stripped needles off the evergreens and whipped them about. One struck his cheek like a blow dart.

Is this easy to do? No, it’s not. It’s a goal you can set. Definitely challenging, but worth the effort. Bestselling authors seem to do this easily, but don’t be fooled.

3. Ensure your plot grows from your characters

In this post, I suggested illuminating your major characters with a subplot:

To create a useful subplot, tie the subplot to your main character’s arc.

Your main character MUST change in some way.

Satisfying reads take effort, but it’s worth it

Are you new to writing fiction? If you are, you may feel a little depressed because creating satisfying reads takes effort. In a sense, that’s the magic of writing fiction: you never stop using your imagination.

Have fun with your fiction; create magic. 🙂


The Eardleys Of Gostwicke Hall
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