Keep Detailed Notes
Write down everything you know about your characters, scenes, plot. This helps if you don’t have huge chunks of time to keep going back through the manuscript to see what you wrote previously.
As my story grows, so does my “Notes” document in Word. I write down what I see in my mind, what it makes me feel, what I want to remember throughout, character lists and where they appear in the story, names of places (especially when dealing with strange or made-up names), and sometimes I outline my endings to keep me focused and moving forward.
Also, I highly recommend keeping your deleted scenes and ideas that you didn’t end up putting in your novel. They could be useful in book two, or just for connection with your reader in case they wonder.
Novels are long, mentally wearing processes. It’s a good idea to have the important points written in a single place where you can find it all.
Beta Readers Are Invaluable.
And to be truthful, they’re kind of hard to find. Or at least they are for me. To be fair, I have a hard time asking people to do favors for me and it seems like only a few people are actually willing to follow through.
I promise you though that if you can get at least three people to read your book and give you details on what to fix, at least your book is that much better. Even if they aren’t English teachers, they can tell you which parts were boring or need more sprucing up. Then you adjust the story where necessary.
Maybe they won’t catch all the grammatical errors, and maybe you won’t either, but the goal is to present the best possible book you can write so it’s a good place to start.
Readers Connect with Simple Truths.
One way to draw your readers in is to make observations about life that they know intimately and understand even if they’ve never thought about it before. People like to connect with like things. It makes them feel understood and part of a group. It helps them sympathize with your characters.
My favorite example of this is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas in which the Count says, "You remain eternally encircled in a round of general conditions, and have never dared to raise your wings into those upper spheres which God has peopled with invisible or exceptional beings."
It makes me think about all the conditions we set for ourselves or others set for us. This quote tells me that we can be more than we dream if we only dare.
Who Is Your Reader?
Brainstorm this for a minute. Who are you writing for? What do they want/need to know? Who are you and how can you convey your message?
Readers tend to gravitate to certain genres and authors. Which readers are you trying to connect with? Make notes if that helps and then write with them in mind.
Be Your Story’s Biggest Fan
Basically, if you don’t love your book, how can you expect others to? You’re wasting your time and that of your readers. The best part about being a writer is that we get to play around like we did when we were kids, and we get paid to tell secrets and wishes on paper. We should make the writing endeavor an affair of love and adventure.
You know you’re doing it right when it scares you, overwhelms you and you cry and dread writing because if you continue, your babies will hurt
If it scares you, you’ll grow as a writer if you face it head-on. Don’t back away from it. The saying goes something like, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader,” and that’s absolutely true.
Let the emotions fuel your writing and subconsciously your fears will translate to your readers. Let them feel what you feel. It’s hard to watch your babies suffer, but the whole point of your character’s journey is a struggle so don’t be afraid when they do.
Leave It All On the field
We suffer for our craft, but taking our time relentlessly hammering the story into shape is the best way we can take care of our readers. It's our job to entertain. It's our goal to engage, so no matter how hard it is, we must work to continue providing the top-notch version of our writing that our readers expect and deserve.