Since I’ve been really into the fantasy genre lately, I’m really excited to introduce today’s guest writer, Brandon Mull, author of Dragonwatch (A Fablehaven Adventure).
Dragonwatch takes readers to a hidden dragon sanctuary in North America called Wyrmroost where Celebrant the Just, King of the Dragons, is plotting his revenge. He has long seen dragon sanctuaries as prisons and not havens. Now, he longs to overthrow his captors and return to the Age of Dragons. The time has come to break free and reclaim his power. Check out the stunning book trailer, then read on for Brandon’s thoughts on what makes a story really stand out!
Dragonwatch Guest Post: What Makes a Story Great?
There’s all different kinds of stories—all different kinds of genres. You’ve got your mysteries, your suspense, your classic literature; you’ve got your sci-fi, and your fantasy, and your romance. But I think the great books—the really fun-to-read books—all have a few things in common, and that’s what I try to focus on in my writing. The first thing I think a good book needs is great characters. Because if you don’t care about the characters, you’re not going to care what happens to them. The rest of the book doesn’t matter unless the characters are people that you can relate to, or feel like you’re a little bit like, or at least can be interested in.
So, first, a great book, no matter what category, needs great characters. Those characters have to have relationships. As those characters matter more to each other, they’re going to matter more to the readers. Some of those relationships could be that the characters are enemies or they could be friends or they could be family relationships or teacher/student relationships. There’s so many types of relationships , but what’s important is that a good book has these interesting characters who have profound relationships to one another. Then your characters must face interesting trouble—interesting problems. The trouble is what’s going to make the book interesting, and watching the characters try to overcome that trouble. And that’s why at the end of a book, you typically get a happily ever after. Because once things are happy, guess what? The story is over; there’s nothing left.
In summary, a good book has characters who have relationships, who face trouble and then make decisions—tough decisions—to try to overcome that trouble, and then consequences flow from those decisions. Hopefully, if those consequences feel realistic, the book feels honest, and the book feels true, and even if it’s a fantasy adventure, the story feels real.
So, if I was going to break down my five most important elements in a book, it would be:
1) Characters that readers care about
2) Profound relationships
3) Interesting trouble
4) Characters making tough decisions
5) And the consequences that the characters must deal with
If a book has those things—if that’s working, I don’t care what category it is, it’s going to take me on a good ride.
About Brandon Mull:
Brandon Mull is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fablehaven series and Beyonders series. He travels the country visiting schools, promoting literacy, and sharing his message that “Imagination Can Take You Places.” He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with his family.
Dragonwatch: A Fablehaven Adventure (Shadow Mountain Publishing) is available now from Amazon and other booksellers nationwide.