Good writing takes more than natural talent and a keyboard. In order to make your self-published writing intriguing, engulfing, and comparable to traditionally published writing, make sure you do all you can to bring it to life. Good writing comes down to more than plot and characters. It comes down to is research, details, and worldbuilding.
Here is how to truly bring your self-published writing to life.
Pay attention to details
If Billy has blue eyes on page seven, but brown eyes on page fifty, you have a problem. Make sure all the details in your story match up. If you’re self-published, it’s likely you’re your own editor, so pay attention. Details add spice to the story. However, don’t go overboard. If you get too stuck in the details, you’ll bog down the story. The only person who has succeeded at over-detailing was J.R.R. Tolkien. There’s a fine line, so make sure you know where it is.
Do your research
This one is pretty straight forward. Research everything. Is your protagonist a bank teller? Research what a day in the life of a bank teller is like. Is your story set in Omaha, Nebraska? What’s it like there? Setting your story in 1976? Research that year. Don’t skip out on research. You’d be surprised what your readers will know.
Write realistic dialogue
Even the most unbelievable Sci-Fi or Fantasy novel can be made a more realistic if the characters sound real. To write convincing dialogue, listen to the conversations around you. How do people sound when they talk? Pay attention and mimic them. Read your dialogue out loud so you can hear what it sounds like. Also, don’t shy away from using “said.” You don’t need to fill your story with “he quipped” or “she exclaimed.” While those verbs are fine and good, don’t be afraid to keep it simple sometimes.
Create relatable characters
You may think that the less detail you put into your characters make them more relatable—that if they’re sort of an “every man,” your readers will be able to identify with them. WRONG. Do a character sketch before you begin. What color are their eyes? What’s their favorite meal? What is their favorite memory? If you fill your characters with details specific to them, your readers will be able to grab onto those details and relate to them.
Use a familiar setting OR focus on wordbuilding
If you’re writing a fantasy novel set in an imaginary world, you clearly aren’t going to be using a familiar setting. If you’re writing a romance novel set in a small town, however, you are. Make sure your setting is one you’re familiar with. If you’re writing about a big city, and you’ve never been out of your own hometown, you might have difficulty. That being said, if you’re not using a familiar setting, be prepared to dedicate your time to worldbuilding.
Show, don’t tell
Chances are, you’ve heard this before, but it’s worth repeating. If you want your characters to know that you protagonist is sad, show them. Don’t just say, “Billy was sad.” Instead, make Billy cry. Make Billy lay in bed all day. Your readers will get it, and it will be more of an experience than if you simply tell them what he’s feeling.
Of course, all this hard work is for naught if you don’t edit as well. Once you’re done bringing your work to life, keep it alive by editing it to perfection.