The Three Pillars of a Gripping Novel

WriterI’m currently reading “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline, which is a great book so far. While reading it, the following struck me. There are three things that engage me as a reader:

– The Writing Style;

– The Story;

– The Original Ideas.

When all three combine, like in “Ready Player One”, the book becomes an amazing page turner, but any two seem to be enough for a book to find fans.

Let’s take the first one, writing style. If a book is smoothly written and fits what I enjoy reading, then it becomes easy to read. However, this is the hardest one to control. You only really get better in terms of style by writing a lot. Even if you develop a great style, it still might not match what some readers enjoy.

Some people like lots of description. Some people like very little. So, writing style is something that you should develop, but not something you should concentrate too much on.

The second point is the story. This encompasses the characters and the plot. If the story is interesting and the characters believable, then you’ll be sucked into the novel. This is even if it’s not original or not too well written. Obviously it can’t be too cliched or too poorly written, or that will get in the way of the story. If you can write a story that is nicely balanced and resolves itself cleanly, though, you’ll find fans.

The third point is the original ideas. This is the easiest thing to get right and the one I see done the least. Before you’ve written the first word of a book, you can brainstorm original ideas. While world building, you can come up with new things to include in the world. Skip this step and you’re missing out on a whole pillar that could be supporting your book later.

Original ideas could be a new twist in a murder mystery. Or a new technology in a science-fiction book. Go and research. Find obscure things that no-one has written about recently and include them. Each one will engage the reader and make them want to find out about it.

I think that there are two pillars there within any writer’s control. Anyone can come up with new, original ideas. It just takes a little time before you start writing. If you’re having trouble, you can research brainstorming techniques.

Writing an interesting story is similarly possible for anyone. It just involves planning before you start your novel.

The writing style will come on it’s own, after you’ve written a million words. Control what you can. Make good stories with original ideas.


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