What Makes A Good Writer

nathanCreativity, Indie Publishing, Personal Development2 Comments

-Whatever you do, you must get this right to be successful.

Today is all about what lives inside of you, and I don’t necessarily mean your art.  It is the purpose behind the art. Now, I will mainly focus on writing in today’s article, because, well… I am a writer, but this will not be limited solely to writing by any means.

There is a thought that strictly proper grammar, sentence structure, vocabulary and solid metaphors make good writing.  If you got an A+ in English Lit then you will excel as an author.

I beg to differ. 

You see, there is another school of thought out there that says if you successfully draw out the right emotions in your book (and you do not completely flop on the plot and story development, of course), then you are successful.  It is this singular idea that you and I will discuss today.  This can be called, and has been called many things.  The one that I liked best is called the emotional promise the writer makes with the reader.  I like this description, because it also lends itself to describing the bond/relationship this exists between the two parties, which is good, because that is a key element that is way too often overlooked.

So what exactly is an emotional promise, and why does it matter so much?

To answer this question, I would like to take you back.  Way back.  Back into time.  (That’s old-school Blackstreet… you are welcome).


I grew up with the typical children’s classics: Transformers, G. I. Joe, the Avengers, X-Men, Dragonball Z, and the like.  If it wasn’t epic, I had no room for it. I was that kid who could spend all day alone, just me and my imagination. My brother and I would pretend to be Superman, Spider-Man, Snake Eyes… all of those guys. This is nothing outside of any other little boy, but it set the foundation of my writing.

It was the first layer.

The second layer came when I began to compete in powerlifting. Year after year, I grew stronger and stronger… and with it, I discovered the love of pushing myself to the limits. I loved the explosion of energy it took to push up numbers I had never done before, the adrenaline rush, the reaching into the unknown as I attempted something previously impossible to me. Yeah, I was addicted to the whole process (and as a side benefit, it kept me in great shape, which is something I miss terribly).

As I attempted more and more, I heightened my senses by listening to bands like Red, Pillar and Skillet. Man ohhh man, what a rush! It put me into my zone. The influence of the music and lyrics from these bands was a third layer.

The fourth layer was my moral and spiritual upbringing.  You can argue with me all you want about authors who keep their beliefs out of their writing, but I do not see anyway people can keep 100% of their worldview out of their art.  You have to write from a vantage point. That is what makes it uniquely yours.  Never lose touch with that.

The fifth layer came from a combination of finding my love for reading in college (yes, it took me that long) and playing a game called Metal Gear Solid 2.  That probably sounds a bit dorky to you, but that was the first game I played that showed movie-esque cut scenes in between gameplay that sucked you into the story. I will never forget it. Seeing the plot unravel and the characters develop pulled me in like a wrangled calf. I actually think that was the genesis of my undying love for story… through a video game. Once I found a book series I liked, it was all over. I fell in love with the craft of writing.

The sixth layer came in my first attempt at writing.  It was a Christian Living book called Embark. Though it sat in rough draft form on my shelf for years, it eventually was found by an editor, and through her, a small traditional Publishing Firm out of Charlotte, North Carolina. In the summer of 2011, I was an official, bona-fide published author!!!

The final layer was introduced first on my wedding day by marrying the love of my life… and since then, through the birth of my three children.Writing thrilling and exciting adventures that I am proud to have them read as they grow up is a core reason I write fiction.

[End backstory]

I tell you all this so that as you read my books, you will understand where I pull all of my creative energy and passion from.

All this has culminated into what and how I write.  My passion for these elements and purpose is my emotional promise, because they are things that will always be present in my stories– and will likely be the reason you buy my books.

Let’s look at some examples.  You buy John Grisham for romance, right?  WRONG.  He writes legal thrillers.  If you want the life scared out of you, you will probably turn to Stephen King. If you are jones’n for a Military/Political Thriller, Brad Thor is your man. When you pick up their books, you know what you are getting. It is a sort of contract between the Author and Reader, and the beautiful thing about it is that it transcends genre.  The guys at Realm and Sands pride themselves on not being stuck into a genre mold.  That is their emotional promise- to write with a broad stroke in multiple genres.

If you have zoned out, I want you to refocus now.  If you take away anything from this newsletter, I want you to get this:

If you can establish and consistently deliver this emotional promise, the emotions you intend to invoke in your reader, you win. Your growing audience will know what to expect, and you will know what they yearn for.

Bella Andre has even made her emotional promise her tagline and branding: Thrillers With Heart. BAM. From the first five seconds on her website, you know what to expect. She has told you up front what her books are about, and she is wildly successful with it. She knows what her audience wants, and she gives it to them.

So, now that you have heard a little bit about my past and passions, let me boil all this down for ya.

First, there is, at the very core, the reason I write.  It is to honor God and leave behind epic tales for my children that are full of adventure, heroics, purpose and void of all the modern day, typical trash.

The second is the emotional promise I make to all my readers.

So, for the first time in my writing career, here is my official promise to you, the reader:

When you pick up a novel by Nathan Roten, you will be reading a tale that will be action packed, adrenaline infused adventures in which our Heroes and Heroines will work for a higher purpose.I will strive to give you a story that is epic in theme and character driven.Though the characters will always deal with real life struggles and temptations, I will not write books filled with f-bombs and sex. I will always strive to create real people and scenarios, involving the brightest aspects of human ability as well as exploring the darkest corners of the human heart and psyche, it will always be written with my children eventually being the reader.

Somehow, I need to compact all of that into an awesome tagline like Bella.  Think you can? Why not reply and give it your best shot?  I may just end up using your branding ideas!

Until next time,