Missy here. While Santa’s checking his list, I want us to check our lists, too. And as much as I love the excitement of Christmas gifts, I’m not talking about your wish list. I’m talking about our writing.
A couple of years ago, I saw a list of points that a bestselling author had made regarding her stories. This author had listed 10 points that are most important in her work, that she always makes sure to include.
I loved the idea. And in April of 2008, I made my own list of key elements using what I’d learned during and after the publication of my first book and also taking reader feedback into account. I wanted to be sure to include all these things in my stories so that readers would see my name on a book and know what they were buying. I wanted to create a reliable product time after time. (I know it’s hard to think of our babies as a product, but they are!)
Since the new year will be here before we know it (OMGosh, where did 2009 go??!!), I decided to pull that list out and review it. To see if it needs updating. But before doing so, I thought I’d share it with you. And of course, challenge you to create your own!
So first, here’s my list:
Missy Tippens’ 10 points:
- Clever opening hook that gives great character description.
- Snappy dialogue without bickering. Subtle humor within dialogue, but balanced with emotional reactions.
- Internal growth as hero and heroine face their worst fears, yet risk reaching for their greatest desires.
- Emotional plot points. Yank reader heartstrings.
- Unique characters who are opposites in some way. Contrast them with quirks and physical attributes/socioeconomic class/personalities/job type.
- Deep POV.
- Lots of dialogue and white space.
- Emotional ending that comes full circle to reflect the opening.
- Family/small town stories (plenty of secondary characters).
- Faith element.
Looking back at this, I can’t think of anything I would change right now, although I think I’ll update the faith element point to make it more specific. I hope I’m doing a good job incorporating each and every point into each and every story. I think I need to print this and put it in my notebook for each wip so I can actually check items off as I’m reviewing the complete manuscript.
So now… YOUR TURN! I hope you’ll work on this privately, even if you don’t share with us here in Seekerville. What do you have that’s unique to you that you bring to your stories? What voice/style are you known for? If you’re not sure about this, think about contest feedback and critiques you’ve had. What strengths are mentioned most? Do you make readers laugh? Do you scare them? Do you make them cry or sigh or think or grow? I’m sure the 10 points will be different for different genres—as well as different for each author. But I think it’s a good idea to think these through so you can focus on your strengths and what will make your work stand out.
Though I’m making you work today, at least I’m offering a reward! For those brave souls willing to share (and who leave me contact info), I’ll enter you in a drawing for a copy of my most recent release, A Forever Christmas, as well as a copy of another Steeple Hill Love Inspired book of your choice. (LI, LIH or LIS. I’ll order it and have it shipped to you. The book you choose must be available at the time I order.) And so that I don’t make you work too much, I’m only asking that you post 5 of your 10 points because I know it’s not easy to come up with this list! It may take a while to figure out all 10.
For those not entering the drawing, I’d still love to hear any of your points you’re willing to share! We can all learn from each other.
P.S. If you want to enter the drawing but already have a copy of my books, I’ll send you two LI’s of your choice instead.