4/7/09

Writing Tip Tuesday: The 'So What?' Factor

When you're writing, you need to consider the "so what" factor—that is, whatever it is that makes the reader care about your story.

Let's say you have a story about a woman in her 30s who is divorced and looking for a new romance. So what? I know a dozen women in my own neighborhood who fit that description. Why should I care about what's happening to the woman in your book?

Is it her personality? Is she funny? Quirky? Always getting into trouble?

Is it the way she finds romance? Is there a mystery involved? Suspense? Danger? Or does she continually reject the guy next door who is perfect for her?

There has to be an investing reason for the reader—and it's usually the characterization, the plot or both. The more reasons a reader has to invest in your novel, the more they're going to like it.

Take some time to evaluate your novel and your audience. Look at your plot and ask yourself, "So what?" Then look at your character and ask, "Who cares?" When you can answer those two quesionts, you're on the right track.

6 comments:

Annette Lyon said...

Amen. I recently read a book that was okay on the sentence level and had plot potential, but I DIDN'T CARE about the characters, so I didn't care what happened to them. They were annoying. They weren't sympathetic. I had no reason to hope they'd work things out. "So what?" is critical.

Jennie said...

And it all goes back to a good opening. If a writer can't get me to care about the character or the plot in the first few chapters, preferably the first page, I have a hard time finishing the book. Cutesy dialog doesn't do it.

Carolyn V. said...

Oh my, I think Annette and I read the same book. It took me over a month to get through it, because I kept putting it down and not caring it pick it up again. But I did it and rewarded myself with a big bowl of ice cream! =)

Legoboyzmom said...

You're more persistant than I, Carolyn. I tried three different times to plow into Dava Sobel's "Galileo's Daughter" and each time the lack of early evidence of a developing story put me off. Here is a book by a major publisher, with a great cover and promising title. Who doesn't like a father-daughter tale, particularly when the father is so famous? But after every page in the first chapter, I kept asking myself, "Where's the story? When is it going to intrigue me?" In other words, "So what?"

Tanya Parker Mills said...

Oops. I accidentally used my other Google account. That last comment was mine.

Becky said...

I have a lot of books in my garage or in my to-sell-on-Ebay pile that are there because there is no "so what" factor. Great post.