Stories are powerful, and I truly believe that stories have the power to change the world. With stories we can explore social issues such as racism, domestic violence, sexism and more, in a way that’s accessible and interesting, whilst exploring multiple opinions and experiences through the eyes of different characters.
Assuming you’re writing commercial fiction designed to sell, rather than just a personal project never intended to be read by anyone else, should you be focusing your energy on writing for yourself, or writing for your audience? Neither is technically wrong, so whether you’re choosing to write what makes you happy or to make your readers happy, you’re not necessarily doing the wrong thing, but their are arguments to support both approaches.
A plot twist is a sudden change in your story that your audience don’t see coming, such as a reveal that one of the goodies is actually a baddie. Your plot twist can be written in a way that pulls your audience into your story and makes them want more because it’s a really unexpected moment that’s exciting to read, or it can boot them out. And you never want to boot your audience out.
The resurrection of characters that have died can be a dramatic game changer that enhances your story, however, if used too easily and without careful construction, it can have the opposite effect. Your audience can be left feeling like all the tension has been sapped away because if characters die it doesn’t really mean anything.
Characters that start out as enemies, and through the course of the story turn into friends or lovers is quite a popular trope, and because it’s popular it’s used a lot. It can work really well, and satisfy your audience in a specific way, or it can just feel predictable and dull, depending on how you use it.
If you are planning a series of books or films, then you need to write the first one in a way that will encourage your audience to come back for the second installment, and excite them to read further adventures with those characters. One way of doing that is with a cliffhanger, so you leave part of your story untold and end it at a point of tension that the audience hopes to be resolved next time. However, there are negative consequences to that decision.
If you are writing something absolutely devastating in your story, such as a heartbreak or death scene, it’s natural as a writer that you want to make your audience cry when it happens. If they cry, that means you have successfully connected with them in a way that is powerful enough to move them, which means your story is well written enough to connect with.
I’ve written before about how your Protagonist and your Antagonist both have to be motivated to go after what it is they want, but it’s important to remember that your audience has to understand why they want it. If they don’t understand why it matters, they’ll have a full disconnect with the character and stop caring if they achieve their goals.
If in your story you have a character that needs to learn a piece of information that is crucial to your story, you can have them learn it one of two ways. That can either learn it by working for it and finding it out because they’ve quested to accomplish that, or they can learn it by a chance because they hear another character discussing it or the stumble on it by mistake because of somebody else’s error.
If you want to tell a story that focuses on plot and character, such as love story, action adventure, or murder mystery, and your audience come to you for those things, a detour to use a lot of flowery language and poetic description will get in the way. Your audience will stop reading because they’ve forgotten the point of the story and got bored.