Nothing puts your book on a reader’s DNF list faster than a slow start and a boring plot. You might be asking yourself, how do I know if my plot is boring? Which is a great question, and hopefully I can share some thoughts and ideas on how to know if your plot is boring, and more importantly, how you can fix it.
Know Your Audience
I will tell you right now, if you don’t know already, I love adventure fantasy. Which means, I will give pretty much any story a chance if it has any of the following; dragons, magic, elves, the hero’s journey, or a kingdom in peril, just to name a few. I am not, however, the biggest fan of biographies, historical fiction, and textbooks. Even if I have a dear friend, who loves a lot of the same books, recommend a great historical fiction book to me, while I might give it a chance, the odds of it going on my DNF list, skyrocketed.
Make sure the people giving you feedback on your initial ideas have the opinion you want to hear. Find out what they usually read, and what they don’t like. Don’t try to appease the people who don’t absolutely love the genre you’re writing in.
Hook The Reader Quickly
If your reader has opened your book you must have done a few things right. Your title, or cover art piqued their interest enough for them to pick up your book. Your blurb gave them a taste of the wonder and magic that your book contains.
You don’t have all day to paint the sky the perfect azure color, or walk your reader through the entire town your story starts in. Once that cover is opened you have to set the hook and draw your reader into the story. Intrigue them so much that they have no choice but to finish.
Writers have mixed feelings about Prologues. What their purpose is, how they should be written, or if they should even be included. It does depend on your genre and story, but when it comes to adventure fantasy, I love prologues. As a writer, the prologue gives you the opportunity to thrust your reader right into the action. You can set the stage with a cataclysmic event that took place decades before, give insight into an assassination on the other side of the world, or glimpse the hidden secrets of the antagonist.
This allows the reader to get hooked, but then gives you a little bit more time to set the stage and introduce your character.
Practice, if you need it
I love writing prompts because it gives you the opportunity to try something new quickly. Entrepreneurs have a saying, fail fast. It means figure out quickly what doesn’t work, so you can spend real time on the things that do. This is where writing prompts become your friend.
Fairly quickly you can practice crafting an engaging opening to a story. Different prompts let you focus on different things. Dialogue, world building, character development, action scenes, and everything else.
Do some writing prompts, share them with a few people, read them yourself and see which ones get people excited to continue the story. Then take those short stories and identify the elements that created that excitement.
I recently pulled up one of my own writing prompts and by the end I had a huge stupid grin on my face. That might have been because I wrote it, but either way I wanted the story to continue. I need to know what happens next in the scene. I question what happened leading up to this moment. For me, that plot is exciting, that prologue, or opening to a book would keep me engaged.
Short Story: Two people see each other for the first time. (It’s not what you think, I promise)
If you’re writing adventure fantasy, or a closely related genre and you want some feedback on your opening pages, or overall plot, shoot me a message, I’d be happy to give some feedback!
If you enjoyed my post, consider subscribing to get notified when I post next.
“Be yourself. People don’t have to like you and you don’t have to care.”
- Books Recommendation: These books are definitely not on my DNF list. (Goodreads)
- Related Posts: Keeping your book off the DNF list
- Writing Article: Tips for Naming Fictional Characters
If you haven’t subscribed already, hit the subscribe button on the side to stay up to date on the latest writing content.