In our second post to celebrate Escape Publishing’s 1st birthday, Juliet Madison discusses what makes a novel a success.
Whether you call it chick lit, commercial women’s fiction, romantic comedy, or something else, I love reading positive fiction about women’s lives. What do I love about these types of novels? Here are my top five things that make a book a successful reading experience for me…
1. Interesting, three-dimensional characters.
I like reading about characters I can either relate to, or can understand. I don’t have to love them, but I do have to care what happens to them and want to see how they navigate the ups and downs of their journey. Characters who feel real to me, and who change and grow throughout the story are important. I want them to have realised something by the end of the book that makes them a better person and leads them to a new awareness of something so there is a purpose to their story.
I also love interesting and quirky secondary characters, and characters that help push the main character out of their comfort zones to add some fun and colour to the story.
2. Laugh-out-loud humour.
In chick lit or popular women’s fiction, I prefer the story to at least have some humour. Even better if it makes me laugh out loud – if a book can do for me the author has won a fan for life! Laughter helps you relax and escape from daily life, and I crave it. I like humour that is authentic, clever, and realistic – even humour that has squirm value! Seeing characters get into awkward situations and try to come through them is always entertaining.
3. Challenges/conflict that keep you turning the pages.
Every good book has conflict. Conflict can be relationship challenges, fish-out-of-water scenarios, time limits, secrets, facades, or seemingly impossible dilemmas. Anything that puts an obstacle in the main character’s way of getting what they want is needed to drive the story forward and keep those pages turning. When I read a book I want to be constantly thinking ‘How are they going to handle that? What are they going to do next?’. Good conflict in a book will challenge the character to grow and learn from it and most of all, be entertaining.
4. A touch of romance.
I always like a romantic storyline in books I read. It doesn’t have to be the main focus, but I like having that element. Romance is also a great way of challenging the character and making them vulnerable, bringing up their deep seated issues that may be preventing them moving forward in life. It can also be a way to add more emotion to a story, and of course planting that question in the reader’s mind: ‘Will they end up together?’ or ‘Which guy will she end up with?’.
5. A satisfying, happy ending.
When I get to the end of a book I want to hug it to my chest and sigh. In a good way. I want to feel positive and uplifted, and have been thoroughly entertained. If a book does this, I’m a happy customer. Happy endings (usually a standard in chick lit and romance) give readers that promise of hope and happiness; that knowing that things will all work out, and that struggles and challenges can be resolved and lead to a better life. They also give you that delicious book hangover feeling when the characters and story keep hanging about in your mind after reading and make you want to jump back into their world. For me, a happy ending doesn’t mean that absolutely everything in the story will turn out perfectly or that there are no sad scenes, but the overall effect of the book needs to have that blissful feeling that all is well.
It should come as no surprise that as well as reading books that encompass these five things, I like writing them too; humorous and heartwarming stories that embrace life, love, and new beginnings.
Aspiring supermodel, Kelli Crawford seems destined to marry her hotshot boyfriend, but on her twenty-fifth birthday she wakes in the future as a fifty-year-old suburban housewife married to the now middle-aged high school nerd.
Trapped in the opposite life of the one she wanted, Kelli is forced to re-evaluate her life and discover what is really important to her. Will she overcome the hilarious and heartbreaking challenges presented to her and get back to the body of her younger self? Or will she be stuck in the nightmare of hot flushes, demanding children, raunchy advances from her husband and hideous support underwear forever?
Juliet Madison is a naturopath-turned-author with a background in dance, art, internet marketing and perfume sales (yes, she was one of those annoying people in department stores who spray you with perfume). Nowadays she prefers to indulge her propensity for multiple careers by living vicariously through her characters. Living near the beach on the beautiful south coast of New South Wales, Australia, Juliet spends her time running her internet business, raising her son, writing as often as she can, and doing her best to avoid housework. Juliet is a proud member of the Romance Writers of Australia and she loves to interact online with readers and writers. You can contact her on Twitter @Juliet_Madison, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JulietMadisonAuthor, and through her website at http://www.julietmadison.com, where readers can also download some free short stories.