Guest Post: How to Gain That Last 1% in Your Writing by Ryan Lanz


Thank you to Ryan Lanz and A Writer’s Path for this repost. The end of the article is an exercise in which one paragraph is written six ways, illustrating how a change in focus can make all the difference.


It’s been said that the difference between a good novel and a great novel is only 1%. When I first read that, it used to drive me nuts. What is that 1%?

If you asked 100 people, you would probably get 100 different answers. What I’m talking about here may not be all of the 1%, but it certainly is a very important part of it.

Someone that I have brought up before is Robert Jordan, author of the Wheel of Time series. One of his many strengths as a writer was to flavor the world through his character’s eyes. A prime example of that is a character called Siuan Sanche, who was raised as a fisherman’s daughter. She would often pepper her dialogue with examples and comparisons to fish and nets. She would notice things, due to her experience, that others wouldn’t.

While many people may not have noticed it on a conscious level, those things dramatically impact the reader. When a reader doesn’t feel attached to a character, it can create an emotional barrier. By the same token, when a reader feels like they see everything in the world through the character’s eyes, everything becomes more interesting.

How the author guides this perspective—as well as how consistent the author is—makes all the difference. In fact, you can tell a lot about the protagonist just by how he/she perceives things. Now, it’s fine and dandy to hear all this said to you, but how about seeing it exampled? I thought it would be much more of a learning experience to try out an exercise and have you all guess things about the protagonist by what he/she notices in a room.

To continue reading this article, click here.

About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.

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