Thursday, July 11, 2019

How to Bring Diversity into your Books by Shakilya Lawrence

How to Bring Diversity into your Books

By Shakilya Lawrence, Publishing Assistant

Diversity within books is an essential element to have, especially in this day and age. We are currently in a peak period for racial, ethnic, sexual, and gender diversity representation in media. However, when it comes to translating diversity into books, it goes beyond those factors; we have to include cultural, societal, and religious diversity as well. Diversity in books is crucial for giving representation for these typically underrepresented groups. Adding elements of diversity within books gives these people the chance to be the focal point in a story and allows us as readers to have the opportunity to learn more about these groups to establish a better understanding of our current world.

When it comes to adding diversity elements into your book, it’s important how you introduce the elements to your reader. It’s much easier when you come from one of those backgrounds, because you can offer a firsthand perspective of what it’s like being in that specific group. That perspective can help establish a better understanding for the reader, which will help them better connect emotionally to the story. 

However, even if you aren’t a part of the group you’re wanting to write about, there’s still multiple ways to add different elements of diversity to your book. I would recommend that if you aren’t a part of that group, do your research into their background. Find out their history and what they’ve had to overcome to get to where they are today. Talk with people within the group, if you can, in order to hear firsthand experiences of what it’s like being in their shoes. It will also eliminate reliance on stereotypes to portray your characters within the story. This will help you understand how to best convey their experiences without coming off as problematic or unknowledgeable. All in all, it will help you be able to write in a way that’ll help the audience connect to the story.

When adding diversity into your story, it’s beneficial to know what kind of message you want to convey to the reader. For example, let’s say you wanted to write a book involving two friends and one of them is in the process of transitioning. As a writer, you would have to think of what kind of story you would want to portray. Is it a happy one of acceptance, or a potentially more realistic one, portraying how society views and treats transgender people? Although these are wildly different plots, both would allow you as a writer to explore and offer understanding to what it’s like being a transgender person in this day and age. When creating these stories, however, be mindful that although a person may come from a different background, the story doesn’t have to solely be about that background; minorities have personalities, dreams, and talents, too. For example, you can create a story about a Muslim teenage girl without making it solely about her religion. This is why deciding what kind of message you want to convey is important, in order to avoid telling a story mainly focused on the aspect of their diversity.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to have an expert read your work to make sure you’re accurately representing the group. Experts have put countless hours into researching, and can usually offer an unbiased, educated opinion.

Underrepresented groups deserve the chance to be represented as characters in books, just as they’ve started to become more recognized in television and media. As authors, it’s our duty to make sure that we try to convey  their stories as accurately as possible to avoid misrepresenting them. It starts with education and learning the background for the group you want to write about. It’s the foundation you’ll need in order to create an emotional connection between the character and your audience.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Characteristics of a Best-Seller by Shakilya Lawrence

Characteristics of a Best-Seller

By Shakilya Lawrence, Publishing Assistant

What are the characteristics of a best-selling book? Is there a method to the madness?

There are certain similarities between the books that end up on best-sellers lists. Interestingly, it doesn’t matter if the book you’re writing is fiction, non-fiction, thriller, or sci-fi. If you have any of the qualities listed below in your novel, it is almost guaranteed to be successful.

As a writer, you should strive for clarity and cohesiveness throughout the story you’re telling. Researchers have found that stories that use voice-driven narratives, shorter sentences, and less complex vocabulary are more prone to reach best-seller success. Shorter sentences and a simpler vocabulary will not only make the book easier to read, but could help speed up the pace of the novel, making the book feel like a quick read even if it’s not. These elements will also help keep the focus and logic of the novel in order. 

Relatableness/ “Human Closeness”
This is a crucial trait of a best-selling novel. When creating a story,  it’s important to have characters that your reader can relate to and sympathize with. This element will help establish a sense of connection between the reader and your characters. 

According to Robert Muchamore, the bestselling author of the Cherub spy novels, human relationships are at the core of a best-selling novel. This is something he realized after receiving feedback from his fans after the release of his first book in the Cherub series. 

UK author Milly Johnson said her success came from the fact that her readers feel as if they could walk down the street, meet her characters, and develop friendships with them. 

When creating characters, especially your main characters, it’s important to give them characteristics that will make your reader not only like them, but also make them care. More relatable and likeable characters will help give the reader more of a reason to become invested in the plot of the novel.

“Emotional Beat”
This element refers to the rhythm of your plot line. The emotional beat of a story refers to the experience of an emotional high followed by an emotional low in order to drive the plot further. Experts have found that many best-sellers follow this pattern of emotional highs and lows within the storyline. 

However, balance is key. Too many emotional highs will allow very little character development as the story progresses. Similarly, too many emotional lows will disappoint people (readers) who like to see their characters prevail over their circumstances. 

Compelling Style of Writing
This last element is arguably one of the most important when it comes to creating a best-selling novel. Some of the best novels are amazing because the writers write in a way that engages the reader’s senses. Whether that’s using heavy descriptors when describing a fight scene between characters or offering background insight about the character’s inner emotions during a personal strife, it allows for a better understanding for the reader. It builds on the connection the reader will have to the character and the plotline. 

This element ties in all of the elements listed earlier in the post. Without knowing how to write in a way that is going to appeal to the reader’s emotions, senses, and connection, you will lose the reader’s attention and desire to finish reading your story.  

Matter over Mind

Matter over Mind Fran Cook, Publishing Assistant Even if nothing comes from something, be pr...