Recipe for a Great Book Your Readers Will Devour

Follow this recipe to start you off on the path towards writing a tantalizing novel your readers wont be able to get enough of!

Book Culture On Writing

Are you thinking of cooking up a new WIP? Follow this recipe for a tantalizing final product sure to make your mouth — and maybe your eyes — water. As always, feel free to make your own modifications to any section of this recipe. Add as much literary garlic as your heart desires! 

1 Point of View 

We’ll start with logistics. Point of view is essential for helping your reader ground themselves in the world you’re creating or relaying to them. Having a single point of view is a great way to let readers see the world through a character’s eyes, or from up a bird’s eye view. First person is the perfect choice if you’ve got a main character with a particularly interesting worldview that you want to share firsthand. Third person varieties suit stories that have multiple main characters, or when you want to jump between time and place as you write. 

Woman writing in a journal in the background with a notebook and a water bottle on a table in the foreground.

1 Protagonist 

Your protagonist will be the driving force behind the side of the story that the reader is likely rooting for. They also usually double as your main character. Note that your protagonist does not necessarily have to be the Good Guy! Many interesting stories have been told with protagonists that are anti-heroes or even the villain in their story. Whoever you chose to be your protagonist will build upon your choice of POV in an interesting or exciting way. 

1 Antagonist 

Now there’s room to decide about how you want your antagonist to appear in the story. You can even have multiple! Your character will likely face many obstacles and challenges throughout their story and can even have more than one that plague them throughout the narrative. But, even if you chose to set your characters against multiple long lasting, thematic enemies, they will inevitably fall into a hierarchy, with one reigning supreme. Having multiple antagonists can be an interesting way to explore social/cultural dynamics in the world you’re creating, or to delve deeper into the intricacies of our world if you’re telling a non-fictional story!

A Generous Scoop of Conflict

Conflict will be the driving force of your story. It feeds off of and into your character’s goals and desires (we’ll get to that in the next step) and is what keeps things moving forward – and not to mention interesting! As much as we might like to avoid it in our own lives, it makes for an uninteresting storyline if your characters just get what they want all the time and never have to work or grow to progress towards their dreams. And with conflict comes one of the best parts of being a reader. Tension. It’s succulent, fiery, and can leave your readers burning with their desire for more. Stories laced with just the right amounts of tension will be impossible to put down. 

A variety of recipe cards written in blue pen in cursive.

Goals to Taste 

Is your story character-driven? Plot-driven? Some will argue that the best stories are a balanced blend of the two. Regardless of whether your main character is intentionally making the choices that take them along their path, or just dragged along by circumstance, their desires are going to affect the way they behave in every situation. Get a clear sense of what your character wants. Beyond that, dissect what every character in your story wants, and what they are willing to do to get it. These likely conflicting desires will drive the plot forward as everyone races to get what they want. 

1 Charged Climax 

Near the end of your story, all the events, lessons, circumstances, and your characters will come to a head. Whether this is a large-scale battle that will determine the fate of kingdoms or the final decision a pair of lovers has to make to decide whether they will be able to be together, there will come a point in your story where everything comes crashing together. This will be your time as the author to resolve the plot thematically, give your characters peace (or choose not to), and tie up any loose ends. The climax of your story should be exciting, satisfying, and leave your readers ready to see how the characters move forward after all that has happened. Can they move on and leave their lessons in the past, or does the outcome of the situation leave them with new problems (ie. a sequel). 

A Pinch of Resolution

Whether your tale ends here or you’re setting readers up for a follow-up, there should be some solution to at least one problem you’ve posed to your characters. A climax with absolutely no resolution is unsatisfying and leaves readers frustrated with all the emotional effort they’ve put into the story, for nothing to be solved. That being said, the resolution does not necessarily have to be all positive. While it is good to wrap some things up for your characters in a way that meets some of their hopes and desires, they can also lose the war, the couple can break up, and the student could be rejected from her dream college. Whatever outcome your characters have, you want to be certain that it aligns thematically with the overall story you’re trying to tell. 

Optional: 1 Story Structure

Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, having a story structure will improve the way your novel functions and aid in your writing process. The hero’s journey, the 7-act structure, and save the cat are all examples of widely used story structures that writers and readers swear by. As always, you can make your own variations, in fact, you should! You want to use the structure as a loose guideline to assist you in manicuring the cadence of your story, not a rulebook that tells you the inciting incident has to happen on page 15. Story structures are a beautiful and interesting rabbit hole that is absolutely worth going down, no matter what genre you prefer to write. 

Whether you chose to follow this recipe to a tee or make your own modifications that suit your writing style and the story you want to tell, this guideline should put you on the right track to begin writing your very own book. 

Want to learn more about how to create lovable (or hateable) characters? Click here!

Check out the Bookstr team’s favorite reads and recommendations here!