Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How Making Your ‘Reading Experience’ More Rewarding Can Spell Greater Success!

Learn How Best Selling Authors Achieve High “Rewards-Per-Page” Scores, with Guest Blogger Vince Mooney

Classic Advertising Principle:
“The way to get prospects to read even the longest advertising copy is to reward them for reading every step of the way.”

The Greatest Management Principle: GMP:
“What Gets Rewarded Gets Done.” Michael LeBoeuf

I have been conducting an analysis of the Romance genre for the last ten years. In studying over 1,200 romance novels I have made many observations. Perhaps the discovery of most interest to romance writers is my “Rewards-Per-Page” index. (RPP)

Fact #1: People will not be bored in print.

Fact #2: No one has to read advertising,

Fact #3: The way to get people to do anything is to reward them for doing it .

Fact #4: Competent copywriters will usually reward readers by providing beneficial information that they need and can use.

Consider this headline:

Will Your Next Manuscript Be Rejected Because You Made One of These 17 Fatal Mistakes?

If you are an aspiring writer, you will probably find the above headline to be irresistible. It would almost be negligent not to read this ad. Even if the ad were thousands of words long, it is still highly likely that you would read every word of the copy -- if the copy kept rewarding you with important information. Notice that the above ad offers this valuable information for free! All you have to do is read the ad.

Fiction’s Advantage Over Advertising

Fiction has many more ways to reward a reader for reading than advertising does. Romance writers have dozens of ways to reward their readers. (My workshop manual on ‘Rewarding Readers’ lists over 100 ways.) Unfortunately, many authors do not take advantage of the many ways to reward readers. This is why they receive low Rewards-Per-Page (RPP) scores.

Why Bother to Reward the Reader?

You might wonder why an author would be concerned about rewarding the reader especially on every page. After all, the reader has usually bought the book by the time she starts reading it. Rather than RPP, shouldn’t the author be striving for literary excellence? Besides, isn’t writing to obtain a high RPP score really just pandering to readers? Isn’t a great story reward enough for any reader?

Rewarding Readers: Optional in Literature?

If you are writing enduring literature, you don’t have to worry as much about rewarding readers on a page-by-page basis. It has often been said of ‘classics’ that they are books readers want to ‘have read’ more than they want to actually read them. I’ve read classics that I am glad to have read but that were not very enjoyable to read.

Why Rewarding Readers is Very Important in Romances

In romances the reader pretty much knows how the story is going to end. The book is not being read to find out ‘who done it’ as in a mystery. The reader is not even trying to solve a puzzle as in a detective story. What the reader is doing is ‘consuming’ the story because the experience of reading the romance is enjoyable.

I find it helpful to think of a romance novel as being a consumable product -- like a chocolate cake. Both the novel and the cake will be replaced in a few days by a similar consumable item. Just as you’d want every bite of a chocolate cake to taste good, so too, readers want their ‘reading experiences’ to ‘taste good’ on every page. This desire can be measured with the RPP index.

I believe that fans read romances for how the ‘reading experience’ makes them feel as they are actually reading the novel. The HEA is guaranteed. As such, romances are primarily about the extended, on-going, ‘reading experience’ that they provide a reader.

Fans are Buying a “Basket of Feelings”

In a way, buying a romance novel is like buying a ‘basket of feelings’. Fans know that some themes, like the ‘hidden child’ theme, will provide them with a predictable set of feelings. When these feelings are in ‘deficit’, fans can actually develop a craving for a given romance theme.

Discovering an Important Truth about Romance Writing Success

Some years ago I was reading a romance magazine in which a few second-tier authors were complaining that publishers pick favorite authors to promote. Nora Roberts was considered so successful because of all the promotional money spent on her books. Publishers spend a small fortune on ads and in-store, point-of-purchase, displays to promote their favorite authors. One author from the second-tier was singled out as being superior to Nora Roberts in quality because she receives better reviews. However, because of her publisher’s smaller advertising budget, her sales were only a tiny fraction of those of Nora Roberts.

Better Reviews or Bigger Sales?

Coincidentally, at the time I read this romance article, I had just read and reviewed a book by Nora Roberts and a book by the ‘better’ author mentioned in the journal article. The ‘better’ author did, in fact, have better reviews. I will also freely admit that her book had more literary merit. (That is, it spoke to the human condition and universal values in a much more poignant and enduring manner than Nora Robert’s book did.)

I decided to see how the two books compared on a reward-per-page basis. The ‘better’ author got about 1 to 2 rewards per page (with some pages having no rewards). Nora’s score was about nine rewards-per-page. (So far, Nora Roberts enjoys the highest scores I’ve encountered. Other best selling authors like Janet Evanovich, M. C. Beaton, and Linda Howard also have high RPP scores.)

‘Reading Enjoyment’ Sells Books

The rewards-per-page scores mentioned above mirrored my own enjoyment in reading these two books. The ‘better’ author’s book had clear literary merit but was dry and dull in many parts. I believe that this ‘better’ author was writing to the needs of the novel. She wanted to get the story right. She was viewing the novel as an ‘end product’ to be judged by readers and critics as a whole. This is like a chef saying, “Don’t judge my cooking by each individual bite or course. Rather judge it only at the conclusion of the meal as a complete culinary experience.” Of course, we know that a chef is not given this luxury. All the chef’s entrees are supposed to taste excellent.

Nora Roberts & Writing to the “Reading Experience”

I believe that Nora Roberts writes to what I call the ‘reading experience’. She makes the ‘reading experience’ as enjoyable as possible on a continuous, page-by-page, basis. Some might argue that writing this way may lessen the literary merit of the work. This is possible, however, this comment reminds me of an interview I once saw on TV. A music ‘expert’ was asked about Yanni’s music. The expert said, “Yanni is really not very good. He just writes the kind of music people like to listen to.” Maybe Nora Roberts writes the kind of books people like to read.

The Rewards of Providing a Better ‘Reading Experience’

I found that the Nora Roberts book and the second-tier author’s book provided very different kinds of reading experiences. After reading the ‘better’ author’s book, I felt like the book was excellent; (I gave it 41/2 stars) however, I had no interest in reading another one of the ‘better’ author’s books.

After reading the Nora Roberts book, (I gave it 4 stars) I felt like immediately reading another one of her books. The page-by-page reading experience was far more enjoyable with Nora Roberts. Like many fans, I place greater value on having a more enjoyable reading experience than I do on how highly a book is reviewed.

How to Sell More Books

Based on my research, I believe that the way to sell more books (or get your books published in the first place) is to enhance the page-by-page ‘reading experience’. One way to quantify this experience is by the use of a Rewards-Per-Page index.

Ways to Reward a Reader.

There are many ways to reward a reader. (I keep discovering more ways all the time.)

Please Note: it is important to point out that the RPP index is ‘art’ and not ‘science’. What I might call a reward, another person might not. Some rewards might qualify as two or more rewards on the same index. Scores can also differ by which pages one chooses to use as a sample. I like to use ten pages from page 100 to 110. This is arbitrary. A more scientific study would employ more objective reward categories and use a larger sample, say 100 pages. Therefore, the RPP Index is best utilized to show which authors rate low and which rate high when the same person uses the same criteria. While somewhat subjective this information is useful for comparing individual authors. (Best selling authors have high RPP scores.)

Interestingly, a new author can have a high RPP score and still not be selling anywhere near her potential because she is as of yet little known or in a small niche market. How many books would Nora Roberts sell if she only wrote cozy mysteries? Authors with a high RPP score should consider moving to a larger target market and be encouraged to do a lot more personal marketing.

Some Ways to Reward a Reader

1. Give the reader new experiences. Take the reader to places she has never been. Treat the reader to smells, foods, and sights she is not likely to otherwise encounter. (For example, try a new coffee, tea, or other product. Show a new way to make coffee. The point here is that as you plan your novel it would be wise to also plan ways to give your reader new experiences.)

Camy Tang’s two books about of an upscale Sonoma spa, “Formula for Danger” and “Deadly Intent” do this very well. The reader is treated to an exclusive spa visit with all the sights, sounds, and smells this experience provides.

2. Five-sense your copy. Involve odor, taste and touch as often as it makes sense within the storyline. Use hot, cold, hunger, and thirst. Five-sensing can be used to provide ‘new’ experiences and also to enhance the vicarious experience your story provides the reader.

One of the most thorough ‘5-sensing’ authors is Tina Radcliffe. Here is a perfect example found in her debut novel, “The Rancher’s Reunion”.
In the scene below the heroine is just returning to Tulsa after years in Africa. She is in the Tulsa International Airport:

“Her senses greedily feasted on the American sights and sounds. It was the simple things she’d missed; the twang of an Oklahoma accent, the U.S. Flag hanging high in the terminal, a sign advertising Mazzio’s pizza, the chatter of the crowd in English, and American food. The tantalizing aroma of a bagel kiosk caused a pause in her steps. Onion, chive and garlic. They all called out to her.”

You can read my review of this book here.

3. Make the reader ‘feel’ an expanded array of emotions. The phenomenon of ‘vicarious experience’ allows readers to feel what your characters are feeling – or at least what your heroine is feeling. These feelings can include: being loved, desired, envied, jealous, victorious, cherished, prideful, fearful, beautiful, approved of, angry, sorrowful, in doubt, joyous, hateful, and feeling betrayed. Julie Lessman makes excellent use of a full range of emotions in her, “A Hope Undaunted”. In a scene between Patrick and Marcy, emotions race from sexy and very loving to hostility and a feeling of betrayal and then back again to sexy and loving – all within one page. Just wonderful!

The scene ends with: He kissed her full on the mouth, and heat shivered through her. “I suppose this isn’t one of those times when I need to say no,” she whispered, her breathing ragged against his jaw. “No, darlin’, it’s not.” And clutching her close, he fisted the satin gown and moved in to deepen the kiss, his husky words melting in her mouth. “For all the good it would do.”

BTW: this is Christian fiction with Patrick and Marcy being the grandparent, patriarch and matriarch of the family! Read the rest of this quote in my review here.

4. Anticipatory Events (AEs): Anticipatory events create situations in which the reader looks forward to finding the resolution. Secrets work well as AEs. Other AEs include: ‘going to a big event—like a dance’, ‘who will win an award’, ‘who will get the job’, ‘what will happen when Mary finally meets her ex-husband,’ and so on.

Sandra Byrd, in her YA title, “Don’t Kiss Him Good-bye” essentially writes her entire book in “AE’s”. Almost every page either initiates an AE or resolves an AE. The heroine, Savannah, creates an “AE” in almost every action she takes or that happens to her. When we meet Savvy’s sister, we are told that there is something bothering her. What is it? When we meet a friend, we are told that she may not really be a friend? Will she betray Savvy? When we should meet a collogue at the school newspaper we find she is coming in a few days. Will she be a friend? Will she take the desk and reporter’s job the Savvy wants for herself? Read this book for a ‘workshop’ in how to write in AEs.

Ruth Logan Herne’s, “Made to Order Family.” also employs dozens of AEs. In my review, I list eleven AE themes in the story that capture the reader’s interest. These are just the ‘people threads’. There are many more AEs of various types.

Read my review for addition information here.

5. Make AEs happen sooner in the story than the reader expects. It is said that ‘a debt paid early is twice paid.’ Providing AE resolutions early is a reward in itself. In Ruth Logan Herne’s “Reunited Hearts,” the most awaited AE in a ‘hidden child’ theme, the hero’s discovery of his child, happens in the opening pages. This was a total surprise to me. (Dragging out the hero’s discovery of the ‘hidden child’ is a favored way of maintaining reader interest. If you reveal it early, you have to think of more AEs.)

You can read why I feel, “Reunited Hearts, is one of the best ‘hidden child’ books I’ve read in my review here.

6. Factoids: these are facts that can make the reader feel smarter. Celia Yeary in her, “Texas Promise”, provides fascinating historical detail making the reading especially enjoyable. She has her hero and heroine travel from Austin, Texas to a ranch in New Mexico. First they take a train, then use horses for a long ride to get to another town with a train station, then they take another train, then back to the horses again. There are many interesting details along the way, like train schedules, what they buy at the general mercantile, café menus, traveling by horse alone without roads, and so on. Reading, “Texas Promise”, makes you feel like you are really taking the trip with the hero and heroine.

Factoids can also include ‘how-to’ items. (Like how an Italian cook might solve a cooking problem such as too much spice in a soup.)
Factoids are so popular that the term ‘factoid’ is now in general usage. (As strong as factoids are, a writer must be very careful to seamlessly work them into her writing. Factoids cannot be used simply because the author wants to reward a reader.)

7. Sparkles include:

-the poetic use of words
- fresh and unique ways of expression
-a selection of words the reader has never heard or seen of before

Sparkles also include new terms to take the place of worn-out romance phrases like ‘toes curled’, ‘knees turns to jelly’, ‘took her to where she had never been before’, etc.

A great example of sparkles is found throughout Audra Harder’s debut novel, “Rock Mountain Hero”, which is almost a love song to the majesty of Colorado. In the below quote the reader gets to see the beauty of Gabe’s ranch at night through the eyes of the heroine who is seeing the view for the first time. (Seeing through the eyes of a first time viewer is a very powerful technique for delighting a reader.)

Gabe followed her gaze. The inky night sky hosted tiny flecks of light, like a blanket of sparkles across the sky. “It clears up after a rain. The clouds all disappear. Makes you wonder where they came from in the first place.” “I could stand here forever.” Gabe peeked at her upturned face, her cheeks smooth and the corners of her mouth turned up. She squinted into the night as if trying to see into eternity. When was the last time he looked up into the night sky with wonder?”

Read my review here.

8. Quips, quotes, and wisecracks. These cover a lot of ground. Ideally these are sayings that the reader can enjoy and perhaps use herself in the right situation. Janet Evanovich’s books are plum full of wisecracks and are a joy to read. In an interview Janet once said that she considered herself to be an entertainer more than a writer. Wow! This goes right to the heart of writing to the ‘reading experience’.

9. What you don’t do can also be a reward: Crystal clear writing and Character Names. An author can also reward a reader by writing crystal clear prose that can only be interpreted by the reader in the way the author intended. For example, I am now reading an otherwise well written and interesting novel; however, I have had to stop and re-read at least twenty sentences, in just the first half of the book, because the sentences didn’t make sense when I first read them. After re-reading the offending sentences two or three times, I eventually got the meaning the author intended. It is important to note here that these sentences were in correct English. If you knew what the sentences meant before you read them, you would not notice that anything was amiss. A careful writer will read each sentence and ask herself, “are there any other ways this sentence can be interpreted?”

For the best example of crystal clear writing I suggest you read any of Janet Dean’s four books, “Wanted: A Family”, “The Substitute Bride,” “Courting the Doctor's Daughter,” and “Courting Miss Adelaide”. In reading these four books I never had to re-read a single sentence because the meaning was unclear. Janet Dean excels in crystal clear prose.

For my review of "Wanted: A Family" go here.

Choice of Character Names: An author can reward the reader by making it easy for the reader to easily identify characters by their names. When names begin with the same first letter or are similar in other ways, it takes a constant effort by the reader to follow the story. This takes away from the reading enjoyment. A great example of selecting character names is found in Missy Tippens new book, “A Family for Faith”.

Read more about ideal character names in this book in my review here.

Important: The RPP approach does not supersede writing rules. You still have to know how to write well. Writing a bad book that has 20 rewards per page will only produce a more rewarding bad book. Increasing the RPP may not even earn a better review. Getting better reviews is not the primary purpose of the RPP index. Getting higher RPP scores is designed to enhance the total ‘reading experience’ in order to please readers as they are reading and to make fans more likely to buy your next book.

How you might choose to apply this information:

1. create your own RPP index with rewards that you find significant.

2. score your own work – then score an author you particularly like using your RPP system. Compare scores.

3. color code your manuscript in your word processor by giving different color highlights to the five sense words.

4. color code ‘emotions’ – show what characters are feeling on each page. You can use different color type for the different emotions.

5. scroll through your WIP file. Ask yourself – how colorful and ‘rewarding’ is my writing? (Do this after your color code your work.) If you’re seeing very little color, you have work still to do.

6. try to increase your RPP score without making your writing seem stilted. (Think of this: ‘a high-concept’ movie is one that by its very nature provides many ways to reward the viewer. If you develop a ‘high-concept’ romance plot, then by its very nature, you’ll enjoy more opportunities to increase your RPP score. Think ‘high-concept’ from the start.)

Questions to Consider in Your Own Writing:

Do you try to reward the reader on every page?

Can you show examples of how your have rewarded the reader from your books.

Do you write to ‘the needs of the novel’ or do you write to the ‘reading experience”?

Do you consider yourself an entertainer?

Can you suggest some additional ways to reward the reader?

About Vince Mooney

Vince is a friend of Seekerville. He is a teacher, real estate broker, owner of a real estate school and former marketing executive. He has written nationally and internationally syndicated advertising with over 3,000,000 words in print. He has published in professional journals, wrote a real estate book for the Real Estate Education Company and has written over 100 different real estate seminars approved by Oklahoma for continuing education. He is currently writing fiction and a nonfiction book on ‘Rewarding the Reader’.

Vince and Linda Mooney

Today we're giving away the Seeker book of choice from those mentioned in today's post. Just leave a comment. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition!

AND!!! Vince is giving away three Rewards-Per-Page 5 page critiques. How do your five pages stack up to Nora Roberts? Vince will analyze any five pages (not just the first five-any five pages) using his RPP index. Are you game? Critique winners chosen by Vince and announced in the Weekend Edition. BUT YOU MUST TELL US YOU WANT IN.

Vince taking advantage of a stop in snow fall.


  1. I have been very excited about this post, Vince. The last one you did on rewards is in my editing folder and I use it all the time.

    So much excellent information.

  2. Wow. Very interesting Vince!

    Yet another printer offer... Lots of those around here.

    I'm in for any and all drawings =D.

    I've got pancakes for breakfast. Pancakes with sprinkles. And syrup. And assorted other toppings. In fun shapes. Have you ever had a Mickey Mouse or snowman shaped sprinkle pancake? You can today!

    carol at carolmoncado dot com

  3. Vince!

    You've topped off the cake (chocolate) with sparkles too! WAWZAH!

    And funny you mentioned this about Audra's book: which is almost a love song to the majesty of Colorado. I just read that chapter a couple of days ago. :) I've spent quite a bit of time in Colorful Colorado and you are right! She did write one!!

    As Tina and CarolM just said - great post. A keeper! Thanks my online friend! Keep 'em coming.

    This great post, and HOMEWORK too! Alright!!! As long as I can have the pancakes too.

    may at maythek9spy dot com

  4. Vince, thanks for bringing your wife to Seekerville!!!!!!

  5. You're right, Mary, he did.

    Waving hi to Linda!!!!

  6. Hi Tina:

    I didn’t realize this post was this long. It might take a while for the first results to start coming in. Do you think this post is as long as Julie’s?

    Do you know if Helen reads the posts before she gets the coffee?

    Great job with the layout. Everything looks better than I thought it would.


  7. Hi CarolM:

    I checked out your two Vinces and I really like the older Will Smith. I definitely want to read your book when it comes out.

    I'm in for some pancakes. Thanks.


  8. Wow, you covered it all. As gratifying as hot fudge on a sundae!

  9. Hi KC:

    Audra’s book is a real keeper for when I want to feel like I’m back in Colorado. Having the character see the beauty for the first time just brought it all back to me. I hope there are a lot more books like it full of the outdoors.

    "Rocky Mountain Hero” offers a wonderful ‘basket of feelings’ – and that’s even without the hero who’s not bad himself. : )

    I have not done an RPP on a mid-grade or a YA. I hope I’ll get some entries. It should be interesting.


  10. Hi Mary:

    I have the most wonderful wife in the world. I searched for the perfect wife until I was 33 years old. When I found her, it was love at first sight. We were married within six months. Talk about ‘Romance by the Book’, I think I wrote a few new chapters. She'll be happy to tell you all about it! : )

    You’ll have to meet Linda when you are in Tulsa.



  11. Hi Carla:

    Thanks! ”As gratifying as hot fudge on a sundae”! That’s a mighty high compliment around here! Are you sure you don’t want to win something? : )


  12. I have to say several times I thought when reading this I have done that or I know what you mean. Like in rereading a sentence or in some cases a paragraph some take a bit to work out or when the POV changes with no clear reference it can be disconcerting for a reader also names I find strange names (ok they may not be strange to that part of the world) but different names I cant work out how to pronounce drive me mad I end up reading it as what I can pronounce. They are certainly not names you would here in Australia to often.

    I am taking a break from study my head hurts!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Hi All:

    I just finished, “The Officer’s Secret.” by Debby Giusti, a few minutes ago, (I don’t require much sleep) and it’s the best plotted romantic suspense I can ever remember reading! There are more twists and turns than the road to Crested Butte! While it’s all suspense from start to finish, it’s the mystery that’s the wonder. I don’t think anyone is going to figure out ‘who done it’ before the last page.

    Just wonderful!


  14. Yes, Vince, Helen always reads the posts before taking care of coffee duty!!

    I second, or third, or fourth the comments that this is a printer-offer. (My binder is getting rather full of Seekerville articles.)

    You take things to such depths that your posts and articles leave me feeling pretty shallow. :)


    P. S. Coffee duty has been carried out now. Help yourselves.

  15. Hi Jenny:

    I hope my long post didn’t give you a headache. : )

    But I know what you mean. It's nice when writers take the effort to make it easier to read their work.

    Hope you feel better. Maybe we’ll see you tomorrow.


  16. Fascinating post and so much to consider. Its an interesting approach Vince - so glad we can benefit from all your work in our own writing.

  17. Hi Helen:

    Thanks, I could use some coffee right now.

    BTW: no one who reads the Seeker posts and comments on a regular basis can in any way be considered shallow!

    I think we are all like large lakes: deep and shallow in different locations. We writers cover a lot of ground. When Camy talks about ‘deep POV’ it can be like dealing with Plato or Kant's 'thing in itself'. With no pun intended, ‘deep POV’ is deep.

    I appreciate your comments, as always.


  18. Hi Jo:

    Thanks for the nice comments. When you have time in the future, you might want to read the reviews of the books I mentioned. You will see many more examples of what I am talking about. You will also learn about some really great ‘reading experiences’


  19. Vince,

    This is an awesome and thought-provoking post! :) Thanks so much for sharing it!

    I would love to be entered to win one of Ruthy's books (maybe Reunited Hearts)!

    And if I can also enter for the 5-page critique, I'm game! I'd really appreciate hearing your thoughts, especially with how knowledgeable you are regarding romance. :) My manuscript is an historical romance set in the American West in 1885-1886.

    (If I can only enter one of the giveaways, I'll go with the critique.)

    Thanks so much!



    P.S. Does the rewards system apply to your post writing, too? I've noticed that in your blog posts you break up the post into smaller sections, which definitely makes me feel rewarded whenever I finish reading a section. :) (I should note that I'm the kind of person who enjoys using a planner and making checklists.)

  20. Sorry Vince I dont really have a headache and the post didn't do it its the study I am trying to do. got a new package of work today and one cd doesn't work and I need to get more info before I can complete one subject and trying to get in touch with the lecturer is not easy so have sent an email. The other subject I started the assignment to go with it was just to involved to work on this afternoon (need to go to the college to get some printing done first) So I go blog looking for a nice break.
    now time to do some reading!

  21. Awesome post, Vince! I liked your last one, too, but this one is even more insightful. I especially liked how you mentioned that RRPs are even more crucial in romance novels, where the reader already knows there's a happily-ever-after, and she's more interested in how you get there than the ending itself. Good stuff. Thanks so much!

  22. Great post. Your explanation of rewarding the reader is clear enough that I can actually do this. Reading romance novels is definitely entertainment and now you've decomposed some of those elements. Thank you. I'm in for the prizes please.

  23. even though i am not a writer, i always learn something new :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  24. I must have read another post by you, because I remember reading once about rewarding the reader. It was very revolutionary to me at the time, since I truly hadn't thought about it. Thanks for the excellent refresher!

  25. Great post, Vince! I think I've been judging books this way without realizing it. As a lit teacher, I can teach my students all about the worthiness of a story, but at the end of the day (especially some days), I'd rather read Nora Roberts :)

    It seems like I read somewhere that a writer should strive to make each scene visual--as if it were to be filmed. And yet sometimes I think authors have too much introspection--I'm reading emotional reaction after emotional reaction and nothing big has even happened. What do you think?

  26. In polishing my ms, I've used Margie Lawson's EDITS system. Some of you may be familiar with it. (I'm going through a lot of blue and green highlighters!) and this really helps me see what I have on the page in emotion and description. And I keep Vince's Reward system in mind and have been using it for months.

    Both work well together and I know they improve my work. Thank you, Vince!

    Congratulations to the Seekers for excelling in Rewards Per Page!

  27. This post is crazy good! What an amazing amount of information and insights to think about as you're writing the story you want the reader to devour. Thanks, Vince. I will print this out. And thank you for giving me another chance to get my hands on Julie's book. That is a treat as well!

  28. Vince, yes the post was long, but it doesn't matter. It is interesting all the way through. When you're a great writer--well, that's all that needs to be said.

  29. I literally checked off each reward as you mentioned it, Vince. So true.

    I immediately thought of Ruthy's book for the very reason you mentioned. Nothing like the unexpected to keep me reading.

    Even though I am more of a reader than a writer at the moment, this post is helpful to me as I write reviews and judge writing contests. Thanks so much.

    Put me in for the book drawing.

    Carol, thanks for the pancakes. I love Mickey Mouse pancakes. I will add sausage, eggs and bacon for the protein folks.

    Peace, Julie

  30. Hi Vince!

    So much pertinent information. I like others are going to print this out to use on my writing projects.

  31. Great post, and I love the homework! I'll have to work on the color coding of my WIP - I can see that exercise jump starting a whole new level to my writing...

    Another bit of homework is to read your reviews - thanks for the links!

    I made a blackberry syrup/sauce to go with the pancakes - the last of the blackberries from the freezer. The moving van's coming in five days, so everything has to be eaten!!! (and the rest packed - my house is a maze of boxes...)

    Please enter me in the drawing for the RPP critique!


  32. The only book I've read on this list is the one by Tina Radcliffe. It was wonderful. I loved it. Would love a chance to win and read one of the other though. I'm not a writer so I'm not entering the critique contest.


  33. So Vince, dare I ask? How did you get started with this analysis of romances? What was the igniting spark?

  34. Yes, Katie, he did do another post like this at Prairie Chicks analyzing other books and a short one in Seekerville with Missy. I asked him to expand because I totally connect with the Rewards.

  35. Vince, the first time you mentioned this concept, you hooked me into reviewing my work for RPP. Today, you've outdone yourself.

    I love this expanded version! So many nuggets of wisdom to help me improve my writing.

    Truth to tell--I've never read a Nora Roberts book. Not because I don't think she writes well, but because I think she writes too well. If I read one and loved it, I would have to read another, and another until my entire life is consumed with NR book because she's written soooooooo many of them!!

    LOL! This really is my only obsessive/compulsive trait.

    Thanks for sharing, Vince!

  36. KC, thanks for the kind comments for Rocky Mountain Hero!

    (Your check is in the mail,LOL!)

  37. Good morning, Vince! I always get so much our of your 'Rewards Per Page' posts. Like Tina, I keep them in my "From Start to Finish" binder where I put "the best of the best" writing posts so they're always easy to find as I begin a story and work my way through it. Thanks a bunch!

  38. HOLY COW, VINCE ... this is one of my top favorite posts on Seekerville of all time -- talk about RPP! This whole post is an RPP as far as I am concerned, and just for the record, I happen to think the length is just perfect. A DEFINITE KEEPER!!

    Also, thank you SO much for including A Hope Undaunted in your analysis and for your kind words.

    And, Lindi ... since you commented about winning one of my books, I thought I'd mention that I'm giving away four signed books this week (winner's choice) on Casey Herringshaw's blog when she talks about purity before marriage and (coincidentally enough) the RPP (Rewards Per Patience) for doing it God's way. So you may want to check out at:

    Writing for Christ: The Audience of One


  39. Wonderful post, Vince! And great timing as I sit down to start the revision process. The idea of going through and highlighting the rewards per page is inspired. I plan on using this technique right away. A definite keeper post.



  41. Hi: All

    I’m back! I must have fallen asleep. That’s time I can never get back. : (

    Like Ben Franklin said: “You are going to get a lot of rest after you’re dead.”


  42. Hi Amber:

    I think you can be in both drawings. I run one and Tina runs the other one. BTW: If you ever want to write a ‘hidden child’ theme romance, you couldn’t find a better model than “Reunited Hearts”.

    And yes! I always try to write on a reward-the- reader basis. Readers like short paragraphs and subheads. Often people will read the headline and then the subheads and from that determine whether to read the copy or not.

    Subheads Like This

    Should tell a story on their own. When I write a really long ad, if you just read the subheads, it would tell a complete selling story.

    P.S. Gets 85% Readership

    A P.S. in a direct mail piece gets 85% readership which is just less than the headline! Never forget the PS in a direct mail piece!

    I kind of specialize in American History from 1865 to 1919. I have a teaching minor in History. Mary always puts her books right in my strike zone! I’d love to read yours to check the history. : )


    P.S. Didn't you write on your blog that you have a first draft done of your WIP?

  43. Special Notice Please

    To be entered into the drawings: Please leave your email address and tell which drawings you’d like to enter.

    1) the Seeker book
    2) the 5-Page RPP score (Not everyone will have pages they are ready to have graded.)



  44. Hi Laura:

    I think the major reason why romances are always the largest selling genre is because , as you said, they provide entertainment and so many different vicarious good feelings.

    Thanks for your comments.


  45. Now that I'm more coherent...

    Yep. Still a printer offer. Now if I could find highlighters... [I found a cool purple one at school a couple weeks ago =D]

    I need to be a. working on my grocery list or b. working on my WIP but all I really want to do at the moment is read Sharpshooter in Petticoats...

    I'd like to be in both drawings. I think I said that earlier...

  46. Great information, Vince. Thanks for sharing. I've been reviewing my pages for sensory info and clarity already. Now, you've given me more to look for.

    As always, I would love to be considered in Seekerville drawings.

  47. Vince, I just found this absolutely fascinating.

    I wonder if a BLOG can have rewards per page because it is really interesting.

    I think I'm a little vague on Rewards Per Page, what it actually means, and this really is a great reminder.

    Thank you.

  48. Oops. Forgot my contact info. (Can you tell I've been out of the loop for a while?)

    diannashuford at gmail dot com

    Consider me for either drawing.

    Thanks Vince and Seekerville.

  49. Hi Katie:

    I have written about this on my blog and a few others. I think looking at the romance as a ‘reading experience’ that has to be ‘played’ in the reader’s mind and only really exists when a reader is playing it, probably is a revolutionary way of seeing it. But I think it works. And I think the really big selling authors know this and work hard at producing the best ‘reading experience’.

    I believe that if an author is thinking mostly to the needs of the novel, and not the page by page reading experience, then that’s when there will be a sagging middle. I think creating a great ‘reading experience’ illuminates a multitude of problems.

    I wonder if cooks have sagging middles in their multi course meals.

    Any cooks out there?

    And, Katie, thanks for your comment.


  50. So nice to "meet" and learn more about Vince!! Interesting post! Since I am a reader...not a writer....Don't enter me for Vince's offer, but I would love to be entered for the Seeker book! THANKS.

  51. Great post, Vince! A keeper, for sure!

    I'm printing it off and placing it in my Must-Read-Often-File!

    You may have changed the way all the Seekers and Seeker friends look at writing. :)

    I'm attaching a post-it note with RPP on it to my laptop! RUE is there, as well. Resist the Urge to Explain. Rewards Per Page is equally important.

    Thank you!

    PS: Special thanks for your praise of THE OFFICER'S SECRET! You've made my day...heck, my whole year.

    Hugs and gratitude heading your way.

  52. Hi Camy:

    Thanks for your comments.

    I know that whenever you blog, I have to go get my thinking cap. (My wife actually bought me a Chinese ‘thinking cap’ in SF! When I put that cap on, I feel like a wise man. I think I need a picture of that on my site.)


  53. Did I mention thanks for saying Rocky Mountain Hero is full sparkle? No, I don't believe I did!

    Thanks, Vince!

  54. Welcome to Seekerville, Vince. Your rewarding the reader concept is important information for writers and a keeper post for me. Thanks! And thanks for your kind words about my books!

    Sometimes when I'm reading, I love a sentence so much that I'll re-read it for the pleasure it gives me. Next time this happens, I'm going to analyze it for rewards.

    Fun to see your lovely wife with you today.


  55. Good Morning everyone,

    Wow! What an eye-opening post!

    I've never heard of rewarding the reader before, never mind RPP.

    I guess in a roundabout way, that's why we're told to add in sensory details, emotion, etc. To give the reader a better experience. Love that you have it laid out so precisely for us!

    I especially love when humor sneaks in, and if I laugh out loud in a book, it's a keeper for sure!

    Then of course, there's Julie's books which I've read numerous times with tons of sticky notes hanging out. She does emotion better than anyone I've read (including Nora Roberts who is one of my faves).

    Thanks for the wisdom, Vince! Please enter me for both drawings.

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  56. Hi Renee:

    I think young writers associate introspection with being wise and literary. This is fine in it’s own genre like female subjectivism. I love Anais Nin.

    But it gets down to the target audience. I took a course on sentence structure and the professor was elated over examples of 300 to 500 word sentences. We studied over two dozen types of sentences – each with its own name. He would read a 100 word sentence and then praise it for how smoothly it flowed from the lips. It was all form over substance. They are actually teaching students to write like this.

    Well, the public does not want 300 word sentences. The public wants a great ‘reading experience’. I will be fair: to the few readers who really enjoy 300 word, perfectly crafted, sentences, I am sure they love these books. They must because they buy them by the hundreds.

    Thanks for your comments.


  57. Oh my stars, I kept trying to get over here and tripped, repeatedly.

    My fault for not doing it FIRST THING!!!


    I can only imagine how much fun and how informative it would be to take a class of yours. Your clarity of information is beyond comparison, and what you say makes sense. The only other instructor I've heard in the past ten years (besides me, of course. ;) )

    was Donald Maass.

    Other than that, I nod off, and catching up on sleep during conference sessions is my new favorite past-time and almost worth the $500 price tag.

    This is wonderful. Thank you for citing my work as good examples. That sure beats lining the litter box with them, so I'm most appropriately grateful.

    Gotta check comments now. See who I can poke fun at. Tina's here early, but I don't want to mess with her writing mode. Better to make fun of her LATER IN THE DAY...

    Take note, Seekerville.

  58. LINDA!!!!

    Waving to you from upstate NY and hope to meet you in St. Louis! I'll be the one with big teeth, diet Coke and good hair.

    Weight is like an airline ticket. Negotiable this far in advance.

  59. Wow, what an info-filled post!! Thank you, Vince, for sharing all you've learned from studying romance novels! As Carol said, another print-offer! :)

    Loved the photos! Your wife is beautiful!! And is that you in the snow with your AlphaSmart?? :)

  60. Hi Debra:

    Have you tried highlighting on your word processor? I find this easier than working with pens and paper. There are also more colors and it is easier to fix corrections or make changes. It is also fun to scroll real fast through the document and just watch the colors flash by. It’s a different view of your WIP.

    What is also nice about the RPP system is that you do not have to unlearn anything. Everything else that you learn about writing still holds. You have to know it too.

    Thanks for your comments.


  61. Regarding the keeping track of character names...

    I took an online class with Susan Wiggs. She offered a chart that has 26 boxes holding each letter of the alphabet. You fill in your character names and make sure you're not putting too many names with each letter. When I'm writing more than one story set in a town, I keep the chart and move it from book to book. :)

    Vince, thank you for sharing your name so I could have someone in the V box! :)

  62. Hi Lindi:

    Thanks for the nice comments! And good luck with Julie’s book.

    I like “A Hope Undaunted” the best of them all but then I’ve read all the others and the reading enjoyment builds with each book as you have more invested in the story. It’s like the ‘miracle of compound interest’ working to increase the reading enjoyment.

    I am sure, at least from a male POV, that the next book will have the best heroine, Emma. You wait and see.


  63. Vince,

    Thank you for the tips! I'll definitely have to remember that for blogging. :)

    And yes! I do have a completed first draft of my WIP. :) I'm actually having an author friend look at it now, too, but I'd be honored if you'd want to take a look!

    I love American history, and I'm actually in a Literature of the American West class right now. :)


    P.S. If you would like me to shoot you an e-mail, just let me know!

  64. Hi Julie Hilton Steele:

    Thanks for your comments. I had not thought about how a judge would use this RPP system.

    I think of a judge checking essentials like ‘hook’, ‘first meeting’, ‘setting’, ‘POV’, ‘pace’ and so on. This can produce a book written to the needs of the novel, and to winning awards, but not necessarily conducive to the best reading experience.

    If a judge used a RPP component, it might let some really enjoyable manuscripts win that otherwise might not win. I think you are on to something here.

    I can often tell on the first few pages if the author is into RPP. Right from the start I am prepared to enjoy a higher level of reading enjoyment and am more likely to buy the book.

    As a reader, looking at a sample chapter for RPP, I can tell a lot about how much I might enjoy reading the entire book. I think readers do this naturally. It is not only how good the ‘hook’ is but also how quickly the book makes the reader ‘feel'.


  65. Hi Rose:

    Thanks for the nice comment. Good luck on your projects.


  66. Great post.

    One thing I struggle with is the unclear sentences in my writing. I know what I mean, but I don't always get it across to the reader.

    Please enter me in the 5 page RPP critque and the book give away.

    bcountryqueen6 at msn dot com

  67. Hi Jan:

    Thanks for commenting. Good luck on your move! I think you’ll like the reviews linked here because I mostly write them for writers. I like to point out what in the book is really interesting from the writer’s POV.


  68. Hi Patsy:

    I think you’ll be glad to know that Tina has another book in the Oklahoma series due out this year!

    Fans of "The Rancher's Reunion" will also love "Rocky Mountain Hero" which is also a high energy debut book.


  69. Patsy, thank you again for the kind words. Vince as well.

    Audra and my books are like companion cowboy books.

  70. Wow, I can't say how much I want in!

    I loved this post. So eye opening, and I can't wait to apply it to my own writing. In fact, I'm thinking this would make a great topic for my local ACFW group. Hm. Must think on that. Thanks, Vince.

    sallybradleywrites AT gmail DOT COM

  71. Whoops, I'm in it for the five page RPP score. Off to read the book reviews now.

  72. Hi Tina:

    I got started on my analysis of the romance genre by thinking about what Freud asked: What do Women Want?”

    Freud thought this was an unanswerable question. I didn’t.

    I knew that if you wanted to know what women wanted, it would not do to ask them. They may not know what they want. They may not tell a man what they want. They may lie. They may say what they think you want to hear. (The pleasers.)

    I saw the romance genre as the last great unexplored continent.

    In romances women write for other women and they try their hardest to give women readers what they want. Not only what they want but what they ‘vote’ for with their money.

    No one has to take a poll or ask any questions. The most popular romance themes by the best selling authors will have what women want.

    I thought it was about time for there to be a serious analysis of the romance genre. The popularity of the romance genre is a major social phenomenon. Academics should never have ignored or belittled the romance genre. (Actually the books are better written than most other genres. What other authors work harder to get it right?)

    Here is a major conclusion from my book: As a thought experiment, I began the book by determining what women should want according to biology (evolutionary theory). I made a list:

    1. A strong, large, healthy, protective male, older than she. (Such a male would be a better protector, provider, and would have proven he can survive at least several winters. Such a male is especially helpful when the female is pregnant.)

    2. Intelligent male. (Intelligence has strong survival value. It paid for a female to find ‘intelligence’ sexy.)

    3. Care and Kindness towards children. (It is important for evolution that one’s offspring live to reproduce or else natural selection fails. Males who like children should seem sexy to females.)

    4. A sense of humor. (This is very important and it would be important for females to feel that humor is sexy. Alpha males are strong enough to kill their mates and offspring if they go into a rage. A sense of humor can defuse a growing rage and avoid these catastrophic events. A sense of humor can have very strong survival value.)

    These are the big four male attributes that I felt females should desire as being ‘sexy’ in a male from a biological point of view. This is what I postulated females should want.

    And this is exactly what I found. Years later in a survey of what women find sexy in a man, my top 4 were the same as the survey top four.

    After reading over 1000 romances, (and I had to read that many for my sample) do you know how many men were under 6 feet tall? Less than 1%.

    How many hero’s were younger than the heroine? Less than 5%.

    How many hero’s were portrayed as being not as smart as the heroine: none. A more intelligent male is just fine.

    Women are very smart. They naturally desire in a male that which best serves the need of human survival. These survival choices have keep humans alive on earth. And I believe these deep primitive urges drive the romance engines.

    Now this is just about the hero. Romances do much more than this. Romances can show how many women want to be treated and how they want to be made love to.

    Romances show that women want to be appreciated, desired, treated with respect, made to feel sexy, made to feel important, and have their needs considered in making love. These important emotional feeling can be experienced vicariously in romances. I call them emotional vitamins.

    Women may not be with exactly the type of hero they most want in real life, but they sure can get that hero in romances. And they will get 'him' because women vote with their dollars. And editors listen.

    Is that TMI? : )


  73. Hi Audra:

    I’m happy you find this helpful. Tina was the one who had me expand this post. I hope to have a book on just RPP that I can use as a manual for workshops. That will have over 100 ways to reward a reader. I'm looking at July. I think I might announce it here. : )


  74. "I saw the romance genre as the last great unexplored continent. "

    This is great.

    The over six foot tall stereotyped male I am concerned about. hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  75. Hi Glynna:

    Wow! I’m very happy to read your comments. I’m even more motivated now to finish my two nonfiction books. It’s hard to do when there is still so much more to learn.



  76. I think you're right on the male stuff, Vince. I watched a show a couple of years ago about how men are attracted to curvy women because they subconsciously register it as a sign of fertility.

  77. Hi Julie:

    I enjoyed your comments. It is so easy to find rewards in your books that I really had to think hard which ones to pick.

    I really love the quotes I included. I just think that is what God wanted Christian marriage to be like. Of course, you are already an expert at RPP. How else do you get people to read 500 page books? I could have also found many AEs in your books but I like the ‘edgy’ stuff. No one does it better…and they probably better not try! : )

    LINDI -- Be sure to read Julie’s post for you.


  78. Hi Kristen:

    Sounds good to me. I’d love to know how it works for you. Can you report back tonight?



  79. Hi Missy:

    Yes, men are much simpler.
    They want younger and curvy.
    Men need to find ‘fertile’ as being sexy from a biological POV.

    I believe that the survey showed that in every known society on earth, men select for younger, curvy, females.

    However, it is important to point out that 'curvy' biologically means voluptuous as in Peter Paul Rubens paintings.


  80. What a FAB post, Vince. Would LOVE one of those critiques. LOVE one. Thanks for this - gonna absolutely use the info.

  81. Hi Vince!

    Wonderful article, and I echo all the comments people have been making. You're the one who taught me five-sensing, and now I'm going to be checking for RPP (and RUE, too! Thanks Debby!).

    Please enter me in both drawings! Thanks! I'd love to have 5 pages critiqued. :)

    hope _ chastain [at] yahoo [dot] com

  82. PS I tried to post last night, & my other browser ate it. (Only Firefox lets me sign into Blogger these days. Strange.)

  83. I posted earlier and am back to say I would like to enter both the RPP critique and the book contests.
    my email
    laurarussellromance at gmail dot com

  84. Vince, I've been eagerly awaiting this post, and I was NOT disappointed! Thank you for sharing all your research and insights. Loved the examples and analogies--esp. how writing is like chocolate cake. :)

  85. SUE!!! You are SUCH a sweetheart for saying such nice things about me, sweetie -- where do I send the check???

    And, VINCE, you too, my friend -- I do love "edgy," no question and I for one would like to see more of it out there, so you edgier types -- go for it!!!

    And, YES, Emma is the heroine of A Heart Revealed along with Sean as the hero in the next installment in the O'Connor saga due out Sept. 1.


  86. Hi Hope:

    It’s been a while. How have you been? Are you still doing your music? I used to win my share of writing contests unless you were in them. : )

    I think a song writer is a natural for a short format writing contest. I have high hopes for you! You write beautifully.


  87. Hi Laura:

    Thanks for stopping back. You’re in.


  88. Hi Joanne:

    Thanks for the nice comments about the post.

    You’re in for the RPP critique and score.


  89. Hi Anne:

    I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Tina deserves a lot of the credit. Tina works so hard behind the scenes.

    BTW: what’s the deal on “The Proper Miss’s Guide to Bad Behavior” – that’s the title for a bestseller if I ever read one! I love it! I’ll be looking for it.


  90. Bless your heart, Vince. You just made my day! I always loved reading your entries in the writing contests, too! I haven't been to that thread in a while, for assorted reasons. (Been working on mss., for one thing...)

    Yes, I'm still working with music and hope to get my album live sometime this year, God willing. Not only have I been learning a lot about writing stories, but through some of the music business chats, a lot more about writing songs. Not too amazingly, a lot of the advice is the same: use strong words that evoke the pacing...etc.

    Mom and I are starting an editing business (should be "live" within a month or two, we hope). While it's going to concentrate mostly on things like grammar, I'll be sure to add in advice on RPP to the writers, now that you've enlightened me! :)

  91. Oh my stars, what a fun busy day here!

    Vince, you've got 'em wide-eyed and listening because what you've said is so simply logical that every writer ought to pay you.

    Except me, of course. I'll make you cookies.

    But, since you told me about that over 6' tall thing, I've made it a point to deliberately shorten my heroes. And I've added height to some of my heroines, and it works out GREAT....

    It's funny how we unwittingly either set or follow unwritten rules. Since most men fall between 5'6 and 5'11", I've tucked my current guys right in there. And my fours sons are 5'7", 5'9", 5'10" and 6'3".

    And they're gorgeous.

  92. Vince, I totally agree. Anne has the best titles for her books. And she is a multiple including CURRENT GH finalist. She is so close the edge of selling..just sitting on the precipice. I vote we push her over.

  93. Wow, Vince. Thanks so much for giving me something more to think about as I revise my novella. I believe this explains how some books feel 'thinly' written. They're adequate stories, possibly with wonderful plots and more-than-adequate characters, but still, somehow, thin. I'm guessing you'd say the author hadn't focused on RPPs.

    I'd definitely be up for a crit from you, though I could also be talked into receiving one of the mentioned books. **eyes the list greedily**

    valerie at valeriecomer dot com

  94. Thanks for the great writing advice. The RPP idea is new to me. I would love to learn more. I am working on a historical romance set in early 1900's Russia and I would love to be entered for a 5 page critique. I know I would learn tons:)


    lornafaith at gmail dot com

  95. Julie,
    I was over at Casey's blog this morning. Thanks for the heads up.
    Oh, and I did want to be entered into the drawing for a book.
    belindapeterson at tds dot net

    Thanks Seekerville and Vince for a great post.

  96. Vince,

    That is exactly why I think your RPP advice has so much merit. When I comment on manuscripts or books, I make sure to let the writer know why I enjoyed the book. I had certain comment areas and now know why.

    I had someone ask me why I asked for clarifications when I read a first and/or second chapter, "after all, if you read further they might explain...."

    I am one of those readers who gives the author the first page, maybe the first chapter. Editors may not even go that far. Your system has tremendous merit for hooking readers for the book and the long haul following of an author.

    Peace, Julie

  97. Hi, Vince! Sorry I'm so late to the party. Loved your blog today. And I learned so much. This is definitely a keeper.

  98. Hi Vince,

    I'm reporting back on my highlighting experiment using your tip, as requested. I'm happy to report it was a great success.

    I chose a different color for each of the five senses, and found some pages where all five senses were well represented and some that when the highlighting stopped fell short. I marked those pages as needing extra layering, and more work to give the reader more rewards.

    Also, this method showed pages where there was sensory overload. Too much seeing or smelling; not enough hearing or feeling.

    Thanks again for the great tips!


  99. I read this post this morning. It was fascinating then. It's fascinating now. I work on the five senses, trying to make sure I include them. But sometimes I wonder if I'm overdoing it for the sake of putting it in there.

    Like many, I'm in for the drawings.


  100. Vince,

    I was just thinking about this... Have you ever read anything by author MaryLu Tyndall? I think she does a great job of constantly rewarding the reader--I recommend anything and everything by her!

    Here's her website:


  101. Hi Ruth:

    About Six Foot Tall Heroes

    Just a second: women like heroes to be six foot or taller. I’m not sure I would make a hero shorter just to be different or fair to short men.

    However, one writer made her hero just 5’, 9” because he was a bull rider and that is an ideal size for a bull rider. That made sense.

    Some writers will just not mention the exact height. They usually say the heroine comes up to his shoulders. It’s always an exactly perfect fit when they embrace.

    Thanks for your comments.


  102. Hi Hope:

    It’s great to hear your mother is ok and you’re going to start a business together. When you get a website for the business, send me the URL.


  103. Hi Valerie:

    Good news! You can win both a book and a critique!

    Yes, a book can seem thin and be otherwise pretty good in the basic elements. What is nice is that many of the things that count as rewards can be layered in later.

    I read a book some years ago that was a Harlequin Romance. It seemed dry and thin but it had a good hook. When I started a RPP grading, I went three chapters with only ‘seeing’ words! No other senses were used. It was also very low on emotions. RT did not rate it high and it was a debut author. The interesting thing was that the book had to really be good otherwise to have been published.

    I hope increasing the RPP of your work makes it richer for you.

    Thanks for your comments.


  104. Hi Tina:

    Great idea about Anne.
    I’ll help.
    You’re creative.
    Can’t we have some kind of Community Barn Raising for authors who are tittering on the edge? After all, these are the authors who often get the multi-book contracts once they do get the call.
    I can think of another very deserving multi-award winning author as well.


  105. Hi Lorna:

    Thanks for your comments. Historical romances offer so many opportunities for rewarding the reader.

    I always like it when the author adds details that I find surprising. I love the “I didn’t know that about…” feeling some authors keep giving the reader. There must be dozens of these to be discovered in 1900 Russia.

    Here’s an example: President Grover Cleveland had the first telephone in the White House and he used to answer the phone himself. That would be neat to have in a romance from the time period.

    Good luck on the drawing and on your novel.


  106. Hi Julie Hilton Steele:

    I agree with making the story clear from the first page. The first page is the most difficult to edit and to see as a first time reader. The author knows how the book turns out. The author cannot read the first page as a fresh reader. The CPs can’t either because by then, they know all too well what happens in the book. Besides: first pages can be rewritten so many times an author no longer knows what’s really there and what has been edited out.

    I’ve read first pages that make no sense to me. I could not understand why the editor let it pass. Then after I’ve read the book, the first page made perfect sense.

    I think an author should have a few ‘readers’ who just read the first two pages and that’s all. They should be asked “did it make sense or did you have to read the pages over a few times to get the meaning.”

    I’m not talking about first pages where the author leaves information out to make the story more suspenseful. I’m talking about authors who actually think the first page is perfectly clear.

    This happens more than one would expect and it happens to good authors. I think a judge should definitely point this out.


  107. Hi Walt:

    Thanks for coming back and commenting. It’s important to remember that 5-sensing is just one of many Rewards. Emotions are also rewards. There are times when senses are limited and one sense dominates. Then there are times when there are unlimited senses like walking through the bizarre in Istanbul.

    It all has to be natural. Once something is done just to be done, it becomes artifice and needs to be avoided.

    If you feel added senses are not right for a scene, you are almost certain to be right.


  108. Hi Kristen:

    I’m glad you reported back on the experiment using color highlights for the 5 senses. (Also include temperature, thirst, and hunger.)

    This system can also work well with color coding emotions. Here you might want to color code the type and not the background. There are many more emotions than senses so you might want to combine some emotions.

    It is very interested to scroll through a WIP and see where characters are experiencing ‘jealousy’ or ‘anger’ or ‘joy’ and so on. This is like a map of what your characters are feeling. If you have a good story, this system can point out areas of weakness you may never ever consider without it. I would look for page after page with no emotions. This can be very dry.

    Good luck with your projects.


  109. Vince, I'm stopping back after a lovely church service, and it's like you're holding court here...

    Good job, all around.

    And no, do not try and provoke me into making these guys taller... No can do. They're too old to still be growing, my friend! ;)

    But despite their height, they THINK tall, Vince. And that's what truly matters.

    Remember Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman? When she got dolled up for the opera? And he told her she looked beautiful...

    And very tall?

    Well, there you have it. If Richard Gere can do it, so can we.

    Until an editor says "uh-uh".

    I will come back to annoy Audra in the morning. I look forward to that every month.

  110. Hi Amber:

    I don’t think I have read anything by MaryLu Tyndall but I’d like to read at least a chapter and see what you mean.

    I have found that if you are reading more books of one author than many others and you stop in the middle of reading other books to read that author, then that author is very good at rewarding the reader.

    Thanks for your comments.


  111. Late to the party: crazy day at work. Loved this post, Vince.

    It's a keeper!

  112. Hi Pam:

    Glad you could make it and that you liked the post. Thanks.


  113. Hi Ruth:

    Richard Gere is 5’ 10” and Julia Roberts is 5’ 9”. Adjust for big hair, high heels, elevator shoes, and lying publicity departments and that’s probably just about right for them as a couple.

    I’m not sure how this relates to the height of your next hero but I’m sure whatever height you select will work within the framework of your story.

    It’s late.


  114. I Think That’s It For Tonight

    I’ll check back in the morning for any late posts. Be sure to check the Weekend Edition for winners.

    It’s been fun today. Thanks to all who came just to see and those who left comments. I hope you all feel rewired in some way.


  115. I really enjoyed reading this. I don't often comment here but felt I had to at least say I liked it :D

    It wasn't too long because it was worth reading :)

  116. Vince, this was a great post and very insightful. I look forward to your book on the subject of RPP's.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


  117. Vince, as usual thanks for being our guest and for a great post.

    You bring the lurkers out.

    Leanne!!! Thanks for commenting on Vince's great post.

  118. Vince, I was out and about yesterday and missed this post. My CP Anne Barton mentioned it, and I'm so glad she did. This is wonderful info. I just saved the post to Evernote so I can refer to it as needed. Thanks for your awesome tips.

  119. Hello, All of these books look great! I've read books from several and I know they are awesome authors, as well as I know they others are. I love christian fiction! Thanks for offering one of these books!

  120. I felt highly rewarded as I read through your post. I found myself hungering for the next point. Way to practice what you preach!

    I'm in for the contests, please!

  121. Hi Leanne109:

    Thanks! What a wonderful thing to wake up this morning and read what you wrote below:

    "It wasn't too long because it was worth reading :)"

    You could not pay a higher compliment to an advertising copywriter!

    I’m so glad you came out and left this comment.


  122. Hi Cindy W:

    Thanks for your positive comments. I will work very hard to finish my book by the end of July. The title at this point is:

    “How to Reward Your Way to Writing Success!”

    I am going to do my best to keep it right at 160 pages. Just the essentials. Lots of examples.

    Again, I appreciate your comments.


  123. Hi Keli:

    I’m glad you got the word and came by.

    BTW: I have three questions for you.

    1. Is, “A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California,” the title to your book or is the title still to be chosen?

    2. What year does the story take place?

    3. How can you stand to wait until 2012?

    Thanks for your nice comments.


  124. Hi splashesofjoy:

    Thanks for coming by and I have to say you have one of the best screen names I’ve seen. I’ll remember you were here a long time from now.


  125. Hi Jennifer:

    Thanks for the nice comment. I was trying to teach by example.

    BTW: please leave your email in case you win!


  126. Vince,
    I've had a houseful of family this week. They left about an hour ago. After tidying up, I headed back to this blog. Good stuff. RPP will become a savvy writer expression, for sure. It's posted on my computer, and I've been thinking about what you said ever since I read your blog yesterday.

    I'm giving a workshop to the Atlanta Sisters in Crime chapter this Saturday and plan to mention your RPPs. I'll give you full credit, of course!

    Great chatter on the blog. You're a big draw, my man! Kudos! Keep us posted on other writing tidbits that sprout from your fertile mind.

  127. That was great Vince!

    I am definitely printing this out!

    And it was nice to finally see your lovely wife :)

  128. Hi Debby:

    I’m glad you got to come by and say hello.

    I would love to go to your workshop. There are so many rewards you can do with a mystery.

    What I would like a workshop on is how you plotted a high suspense novel that at the same time has a complex mystery that I don’t think anyone is going to figure out. That was a plot!!!

    I predict great things for your Military Series!


  129. Hi Eva Maria:

    I’m glad you liked the post and stopped by. My wife is a good sport. She reads true crime stories and I read romances. It seems to work. : )

    Thanks for commenting.


  130. Hi guys, I can't believeI missed the party! :( I blame a sick baby with a bad cough. We've been hiding under the humidifier. :( :(
    Ok, the post was good- rewards! A lot of good info. And I'm one of those tht loves the perfectly crafted 300 word sentences. I really do. But I hardly ever buy books so there we go.
    Got some contest critiques back and the five senses were 'distracting' for one of my judges. She said (twice) stick to the dialogue. Okayyyy!
    And I would love a critique, and it's set in 1908. :) Pleeeease enter me!
    I have to say that Pepper's 'printer offer' had me searching for the offer for a printer. I was so confused! :D

  131. Thanks Vince. What a day of posts. I've thought about using highlighting right on the softcopy but I do a lot of work "off site" and so I end up doing it on paper anyway.

    I've had a printout of the RPP system since the first time you presented it and I think this is prime material for a how-to book. But then again, maybe you need to keep it available just to a limited number of your closest 300 writing friends...

  132. Hi Virginia:

    I hope you and the baby are better tonight. I agree that you can do too much 5-sensing. However, 5-sensing is only a small part of the RPP system.

    Actually, the RPP system works great for rewarding the reader but you still have to know how to write in every other way!

    If you like 300 to 500 word, well crafted, sentences, there’s actually a genre for these books.

    BTW: I also thought they were giving away a printer when I read that myself. You’re not alone there.

    Thanks for commenting.


  133. Hi Debra:

    Thanks for being a repeat post reader. I hope to have an expanded 160 page version complete with many more examples and over 100 ways to reward a reader by the end of July.

    We can try to keep it to just 300 close friends but what will prevent them from letting the word out? I’m afraid that we may have to be prepared to live in a world of much more rewarding reading. : )


  134. Special Note to Future Guest Bloggers:

    It is possible to miss posts if they are posted while you are also posting replies.

    I was absolutely sure that I replied to every one who posted. However, when I went over every single post just now to get the names for the Critique drawing, I discovered posts I had not seen before. I am sorry if I missed anyone.

    Please note that a guest blogger who wants to be sure and see every post, needs to always start at the top and scroll down every time. Don’t assume you have replied to everyone who is above your last reply. New postings can appear above your last replay. It’s like magic.



  135. I know I'm coming up on this info late, but thank you so much for your generosity in sharing this concept! I can't believe I'm excited about doing yet another revision on my WIP, but with your ideas, I am!

  136. Vince, I reached a point with a WIP where I totally lost interest. And if I lost interest then, I was pretty sure the reader would have lost interest, too.

    After reading your post, I plan to go back to the WIP and use the color techniques ... What a great visual way to spot problems!

    Nancy C