There’s a reason why you’ve never met anyone who wasn’t at least a little bit aware of the Harry Potter book series. Despite being hundreds of years old, Jane Austen’s humble yet precocious novels that deal with middle-class life in Georgian England, still, dominate book club and curriculum reading lists. Beloved or panned, Twilight has been read and discussed by at least three of your close relatives. These books did not accidentally make it as bestsellers, nor is their continued presence in pop culture simply a coincidence. These stories and books that have etched themselves into the timeless, literary canon all share something deeply important, they are memorable.
What does it mean to be memorable? Is memorable the same thing as being good, or inspiring, or revolutionary? It’s easy, as both writer and reader, to get defensive when a good number of classics are so underrated. But highly memorable books stand out because their contents are impactful and touching to a wide range of audiences and readers. We can’t all start a revolution, but we all have the power to be unforgettable. Here is how you can make your book more memorable, and secure your place as a celebrated writer.
We all had a fourth-grade teacher talk about how a story should be structured like a sandwich, with the introduction and the conclusion keeping the juicy, meaty core together. And while that worked well for your 300-word scholarly essays that made it easier for your teacher to read thirty of, there is probably no worse way to structure your book. A well-structured book is less like food, and more like a theme park ride. Readers should be excited and unsuspecting. Make sure your story has an emotional drive that allows readers to experience many emotions at many different points in the book. Ensure you pace your writing, always including a calm, both before, and after the storm.
Write What You Know
The easiest way to lose readers is when they figure out the writer is a hack. Disingenuous writing can be sensed by even the most inexperienced readers and will surely cause them to detach from the story, and give up with your book. Write about something deeply important to you. If genuine empathy is behind your words, then even the most mundane of situations can become all-consuming and exciting.
Show, Don’t Tell
Dialogue is essential in any good book, but there’s a fine line between an entrancing conversation between characters and campy, staccato drivel. If you can describe a situation or experience in your words, try and pick that over describing it in a dialogue. Furthermore, hone your descriptive skills. Become an expert at body language, people watching, and describing and explaining how people move and act when dealing with events. The more subtle and simple, the better.
End On a Strong Note
No memorable book ends without a bang. While book opening lines are important for drawing your readers in, it is often closing remarks that make it into common vernacular. If you want your book to make an impact, you have to end on a strong note. It doesn’t have to have a happy ending, but it does have to make sense and relate to the story you’ve just told. Don’t drag it out, either. Concise writing is the best writing. Kill your darlings, as Hemmingway said, and dignify your book with a strong finish.
Always Reread, and Rewrite
Perfection doesn’t exist, but you can get pretty close if you take a step back when you’re done writing to revise and edit. Always edit your book, and have at least three different people read it and give you feedback. Don’t just look for typos and poor grammar, look for passages that don’t make sense or are unimportant. Try to simplify parts that may seem convoluted and omit whatever simply fills a literary silence. It’s ok to not get it right the first time, but the more you rewrite and reread, you’ll wind up with a significantly more polished and enthralling story.
Written By Kaylin Baker-Fields, Submitted March 10 2021