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The Big Idea - Wanna read my book?

Writing books is fabulous fun, but what's not fun is when people think it's rubbish. Here's a very Jooly guide on how to create books and stories that people actually care about and want to read.


The Gwarps are made of jelly, don’t possess any limbs, discernible human features, and are entirely uneducated. They don’t eat or think. They slip and slap across the ground in grotesque, slimy puddles. Oh wait… you don’t care! I lost you along the road to ‘puddle’, didn’t I? I know, I know. It was part of a deft and astute plan to alienate you, the reader, by harping on and on about something so distant and unknown that you naturally stopped caring. The Gwarps were actually beginning to become quite intriguing, but only for those of you who hold an interest in slimy invertebrates. Lesson 1 about writing a book people want to read - MAKE IT RELATABLE. We humans want to escape into the heavens and other dimensions, but we want to read about humans. A book about ducks wouldn’t be such a bewitching or bedazzling read. 


Pick a book you love. I’d say that 9/10 of the choices we can collate will hold one penetrating, powerful theme - it’s epic! We’ve talked about the use of Macguffins in stories and plot structure (1. Character 2. Problem 3. Guide…), but thematically, the idea of an epic is transcendent. A small, normal story is wonderful, but an epic that stretches its wings far and wide touches your soul. Imagine a girl called Claire who has a secret. Imagine a girl called Claire has a secret power. 🏆 A girl called Claire has a secret power that an evil society of dark elves is trying to use to take over the Earth, but must battle against an ancient guild of tree elves who protect us. Claire, herself, is a tree elf, and the book follows her journey to realise her power and fight back against the Dark Elves (The Brethren). The Tree Elves (The Sisterhood) must 🏆… By the beard of Zeus! … THIS IS A MASTERPIECE! … I just made it up, but it’s a winner! 🙊 Our brains latch onto quests and adventures and epics because being part of something epic is just a lot more appealing.


We talked about making books relatable enough but escapist enough, but that’s not enough. You need to give readers the chance to imagine themselves existing in THAT world. If the story is about cats, give each a different personality and let the reader mentally pick the cat they wish to associate themselves with most. Wizards and witches with variety. Male and female characters to appeal to both male and female readers. If a book has one huge dude with a sword, guess who WON’T read it and who will! Give readers a chance to recognise themselves while they imagine it.


The telephone rang in the corner of the room. Vs. The shrill, demanding telephone danced angrily on the table. Which one makes your brain kick into gear more? Consider another example: The water was wonderful - he was so thirsty. Vs. The cool drops of water were life; survival. His tongue cried out in joy and his heart sang. I hope you realise that the second example in each pair does something different. It fires our brain. If I write ‘chocolate’, your brain switches on the emotion you feel when you eat it. If I write ‘screeching, cold scream’, your brain feels something very different. A writer can steer the reader to feel something with language. Keep fighting the good fight, James Jool Founder

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