How to Write Your Author Prospectus Part Two


So from yesterday’s article you might have developed a vague notion of who reads your stories or who might read them in the future. But that leads to an even more fundamental question:

What effects are you trying to create for those readers?

The entire point of writing fiction for those seeking to make a career as a writer is to create an effect upon at least one reader. Your author prospectus needs to convey the central message that your writing can generate an effect upon readers. It is obvious that any writer sets out to have an effect, otherwise not many people would read his or her books — nor would the writer easily be able to continue writing them. Stories that may generate small amounts of emotion may be viewed as a hindrance to others that may generate much more. Focus on the core, the stories that you have written which have received some form of acclaim — even if only from yourself — and your overall prospectus will be that much stronger.

By ‘effect’ we generally mean an emotional effect; a piece of writing which has a purely intellectual effect is more likely to be an essay. But ‘emotional effect’ covers a vast range of nuanced outcomes. Authors of fiction are in the business of bringing about such outcomes, and your prospectus is your attempt to nail down exactly how you do this.

Easy to say. But how exactly does fiction create emotion?

We’re about to enter the heartland of what you’re doing or attempting to do as a writer, so take a deep breath.

There are two basic kinds of emotional effect:

1. Emotions which draw upon emptiness.

2. Emotions which depend upon fulfilment.

The first kind include a whole range of human responses — apathy, despair, grief, terror, pain, anger and so on.

The second kind covers a different set of feelings — contentment, elation, enthusiasm, ecstasy, tranquility and the like.

Emotions underpinned by emptiness are used by almost all authors to one degree or another as it is the vacuum, the emptiness, the ‘hole’ which they evoke which moves attention along and through the text. This is covered in much more detail in my book How Stories Really Work: basically, it’s the principle of vacuum power, the hollowness which sucks readers into stories and draws them through scene by scene to a finale, in various ways.

Emotions bro