As a writer I always think to myself what I can do to my story to make it a little bit better. What can I do to change it to make readers get into it. And even after years of thinking about this I don't think there is really an answer. Because every reader is looking for something else in a story. Some want the character's to be stronger. Some want it to be all about romance or a pure thriller. Or some want it to be plain with nothing really there. So I have come to the conclusion that I am going to stop writing for what I think people are going to want to read. I am going to write whatever comes through my fingers. I am not saying that I am going to not add things in that make the story wanted. But I am not going to try to fit everything in that people want. Like if you take my novel that I am getting published right now, "A Whirl in the Darkness". It is a mystery that has a ghost, a murder, and also in there it has a little romance. That is the style that I like to write. Not just one genre, of writing. I like to have a little bit of everything in there. In my opinion it makes that story more fun to follow. And I know that every author out there has a different style of writing. Like if you take my two favorite authors, Patrica Cornwell and Mary Higgins Clark. They kind of have the same style of writing but not really. Patrica Cornwell always is a crime thriller. But Mary Higgins Clark is more of a suspense thriller. But both of them put a little bit of romance into their novels. And not the romance that they are all over each other through the whole book. But just enough to make you wonder and keep guessing about what is going on between the couples. Like if you take Patrica Cornwell's Scarpetta series. You have Kay Scarpetta and Benton Wesley that you never know what is going to happen between the two of them tell the next book. Than at the end of that book you start wondering again.
And what makes good characters in your story? Should they be strong willed, should they be followers? Should you only have one main character? Or should you have a group of main characters? Should you have a hero or should everyone in your story be a hero in their own way? As a writer here is another question that runs through my head quite often. And for me the answers to these questions change in every story that I write. Or here is one more question about characters in your story, should your characters have bad habits or should you make them saints? And this is a question that I can give you my oppion on, I think that at least some of your character's should have bad habits. They make them more believable. If you always make your characters to be saints, really how is a reader going to get into a caracter. Because most people out there are not saints. And I am not saying that you should make your characters to have great big bad habits but just little ones. Like smoking, drinking, something along those lines. Or maybe it is something in their personality that is out there a little bit. What I do when I am starting to write a book is I sit down and think of all the people that I saw within the last couple days and think about what made them stick out in a crowd of people. And if I can I try to put that out in their character. Like in my book "A Whirl in the Darkness". One of my characters, Nelle, is very shy and dependable on a man. And I got that idea for her character while I was walking through Wal-Mart, and saw a young girl she couldn't have been more than 25. And as she walked she stared at the floor in front of her. I never saw her lift her eyes to look at the people that were walking around her. She also staid a few feet behind her husband. So in about five minutes in a store I had one of my characters for my story! Sometimes I don't use people that I see in a store. Some times as I am writing I just let it come out and see if it fits with the way I want the story to go.
How long should you work on a novel before its done? Here is a question that has so many different ways to be answered. I have heard writers say that it takes years to finish a novel. Others say it shouldn't take you more than a year. But here is the answer that I liked the most. When you sit down and read back through your book and there is nothing that you want to change. Than that is when your book is done. I don't think there should be a time limit on how long it takes you to write. You know when your book is done, there is no one that can give you that answer.
In closing I just have one thing to say, don't let anyone tell you that you aren't a good writer. Because everyone in their own way is a good writer. We all have it in us to be a great writer. Some of us have things that we need to work on to make us better but there is nothing wrong with a little work!! Like me, I need to work on my spelling and grammar! I am horrible at it! But I work on it ever day, and I am getting a lot better. I just hope that everyone out there fallows their dreams (even if they don't have to deal with writing). I know that I have fallowed my dreams and I couldn't be happier!!! Good luck on those dreams!