Posted on 2 Comments

Fiction: How to Find the Felt Need

fiction 101 finding the felt need

This is the first post in my editing series in 2020 for how to develop a great story by having all the layers in place before actually writing, or if you’ve already written your book, how to make sure all the layers are in place.

The first layer in developing a great story is finding the felt need.

We all have needs. We have a need for sleep, sustenance, and sunshine. Your readers have needs, such as reading a soul-stirring good book. Your characters have needs like how to move forward in a relationship or making it through a congested highway in time to punch the clock. And do all those needs need to match? Not really, but they should at least mesh in some way. If you don’t know why your readers are reading your book, then what’s the point? You don’t have an engaged audience, you can’t sell books, and you just aren’t going anywhere, eh? Well, I want you and your books to go somewhere! 🙂

Recently, one writer lamented that the qualities necessary for a good nonfiction book were clearly not the same as the qualities necessary for a fiction book. Readers of fiction, they said, do not specifically read to meet their “need.” Okay, so I can see what they’re saying, but I respectfully disagree.

While it’s somewhat true to that fiction readers don’t read because they have a flaming need, readers of fiction read because they enjoy a good story. And as writers who care about writing good stories, we must give readers what they’re looking for, what they’re craving. The next few paragraphs presents several ways to easily find the felt need in your fiction manuscript.

How to Find the Felt Need

  • why are you writing this particular story?
  • what do you want readers to come away with at the end of the story?
  • how do the answers to the above questions play into your characters’ lives?

Why Are You Writing this Particular Story?

If you’re writing for the sake of writing, that’s a good cause, but if you’re writing because you have an urgent message to share with the world, that’s an even better cause.

Sometimes a book explores an issue to seek to uncover the lie and expose the truth, as in To Kill A Mockingbird. Sometimes a book is meant to show the reader what is most important, such as in Where the Red Fern Grows. And sometimes a book is just fun and lighthearted, with a loose message threaded throughout, like Cranford.

What Do You Want Readers to Come Away With?

Every story has a “so what?” factor, whether it’s an essay, article, nonfiction, or fiction. Every story has a purpose, even if it’s to have a good, hearty laugh (like the ladies do in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford) or to integrate the romance factor as in The Great Gatsby.

In my essay, “The Meaning of an Heirloom,” in The Horse of My Dreams (Revell 2019), I wanted readers to come away with the idea that an heirloom extends beyond the space of something tangible; an heirloom could be intangible—and have a lasting impact on the world and others.

Each author benefits from exploring this “why” question when crafting their novel because it’s really the secret sauce to writing a great story that captivates people, agents, editors, readers, marketers, and the person who wouldn’t necessarily pick up a book and read it.

A Few Examples

In The Baggage Handler by David Rawlings, the characters are on a journey of discovery about who they really are and the baggage they carry. I believe the author wanted readers to be at peace with their relationships in all kinds of spaces.

Under Moonlit Skies (Prairie Skies series) by Cynthia Roemer seeks to empower readers that self-acceptance is more powerful than romantic love.

The theme of Sarah Sundin’s Sunrise at Normandy series is about forgiveness, and each main character (The Sea Before Us [2018], The Sky Above Us [2019], and The Land Beneath Us [2020]) must forge their own forgiveness path as they interact with each other and experience different situations that speak to their own needs.

So … as you’re editing your manuscript’s “felt need” and crafting your novel and its purpose to better serve your current readers and your future readers, I hope this bit of explanation is helpful to you.

For those interested, I’ll also be giving a talk later in January 2020 about self-editing your fiction. We’ll dig into two basic elements of fiction that are key for powerful storytelling. Be the first to know details by signing up for my editing newsletter, click here!

(Psst … this isn’t just to get you to sign up for another newsletter. This is a free online conference and I’ll have a few practical gifts for you too! Details forthcoming…) Love to join? Click here!

Questions? Comments? I’d love to engage in the conversation with you! Drop your question or comment in the chat below, and I’ll look forward to responding!

Your Turn!

What is your character’s felt need? What is your story’s “why”?

What do you want your readers to come away with by the end of reading your book?

(Please, no retelling what the book is *about.)

Posted on 23 Comments

Author Interview: Cynthia Roemer + Under Prairie Skies Giveaway



I’m excited to welcome award-winning author Cynthia Roemer back to the blog and to introduce to you her second novel, Under Prairie Skies! If you loved Under This Same Sky, you’ll love this second novel! It’s a tugging story of love and humor that will have you turning pages.

(Don’t forget to leave a comment and enter the giveaway! But read the interview first!)

Thanks for joining us, Cynthia! What’s Under Prairie Skies about?

~ Beyond shattered dreams lies a realm of possibilities ~

Illinois prairie ~ 1855

Unsettled by the news that her estranged cousin and uncle are returning home after a year away, Charlotte Stanton goes to ready their cabin and finds a handsome stranger has taken up residence. Convinced he’s a squatter, she throws him off the property before learning his full identity. Little does she know, their paths are destined to cross again.

Quiet and ruggedly handsome, Chad Avery’s uncanny ability to see through Charlotte’s feisty exterior and expose her inner weaknesses both infuriates and intrigues her. When a tragic accident incites her family to move east, Charlotte stays behind in hopes of becoming better acquainted with the elusive cattleman. Yet Chad’s unwillingness to divulge his hidden past, along with his vow not to love again, threatens to keep them apart forever.

I love that your hero and heroine are so opposite, and that Charlotte’s ruthless and Chad’s kindhearted! Looking forward to this story!

What is Chad most afraid of?

Chad’s biggest fear is failure. Hurts from his past have left him unable to move forward and allow himself to love again.

I’m sure many of us can relate to Chad’s fear. Why does Charlotte dislike Chad?

Well, without giving up a spoiler, let’s just say they started out on the wrong foot. Wrong assumptions on Charlotte’s part left her vulnerable. She isn’t accustomed to someone standing up to her or exposing her flaws the way Chad does.

Ooh, so much conflict! I love it! One word that describes Chad? Why?

Determined. Chad is determined not to let anything stand in the way of his dream and what’s right and fair.

I can relate to that too! One word that describes Charlotte? Why?

Strong-willed. Charlotte has a will of iron that sometimes gets her into trouble. Not until Chad enters the picture does she learn how to use her strength of will for the good of others.

A perfect match, perhaps? Can’t wait to find out! What is the significance of the cows in this story?

The cattle represent Chad’s dream, one he shared with his wife. In a sense, they are his way of holding onto what he’s lost.

Oh, I feel so bad for him already. What do you expect readers to look forward to when reading this story?

The key verse is Proverbs 27:17: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” It’s my prayer that in reading Under Prairie Skies, readers will get a sense of how the Lord uses people to spur each other on and encourage each other to become more like Christ.

Thanks for sharing your characters with us, Cynthia! Looking forward to this book! Where can readers purchase Under Prairie Skies?

Under Prairie Skies is available on


About Cynthia Roemer

bio1Cynthia Roemer is an award-winning inspirational writer with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the lives of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the 1800s prairie. She writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband and their two college-aged sons. Under Prairie Skies is Book Two in her Prairie Sky Series.

Contact Info:

Cynthia Roemer can be contacted at:





Author Newsletter Sign-up:

Your turn! Enter the Giveaway! Be sure to enter all the options for the most points for more chances to win a copy of Under Prairie Skies!


  • No purchase necessary to enter.
  • Open to entrants 18 and older, in the lower 48 U.S. states.
  • Not affiliated with any other organization, including Facebook.
  • Winner will be emailed no later than Monday, May 7, 2018, so please provide your contact information.

Click the Rafflecopter Link Below:



–Engage in the Comments! I’d love to know–

What’s your favorite snack or drink when sitting down with a good book?


Posted on 10 Comments

Interview with Debut Author Cynthia Roemer + Giveaway

In every person dwells a life-long dream, whether that is singing, acting, or–in Cynthia’s case–getting published. I believe I met Cynthia through one of ACFW’s e-mail courses and we discovered we both wrote about the Midwest from different time periods. How cool is that?

Every author has a journey of how they finally got published. Cynthia’s determination is really inspiring! Like many writers, she’s wanted to write since she was a teen or a student in college. While in college, Cynthia wrote the rough draft of “Under This Same Sky” but didn’t pick it up until 2012, when she was serious about getting published, and completed the rough draft in 2016.

Keep reading to the end because there’s a giveaway on Rafflecopter!

What do you love best about your novel?

It would have to be the message it portrays—that of surrendering to God, despite our circumstances. There are so many hurting people who don’t understand why God allows bad things to happen. While my novel doesn’t attempt to answer that question, it does seek to demonstrate that God is able to work through our hardships to draw us closer to Him.

What was your research path?

While in college, I had to do 300 hours of course-related work. As an English/Creative Writing major, I asked to be allowed to use that time to write and research my novel. Much of my knowledge of the 1800s came during that time of research. I also have visited places like New Salem Historical Site and have interviewed people who are knowledgeable of the time period.

Who or what inspired you to write?

I would have to say Laura Frantz’ book, The Frontiersman’s Daughter, had a huge impact on me wanting to write historical fiction. She has such a fresh, wonderful way of pulling you into her characters.

What’s inspiring to you?

In the spiritual sense, I’m inspired by nature’s beauty, God’s unfailing love, and Christ’s sacrifice. As a person, I’m inspired by people who go against the odds and have the courage to rise above them. Maybe that’s one reason why I write novels. I get to create characters who display honor and determination.

About the Book

Book cover - final

When a tornado strikes Becky Hollister’s farm in the spring of 1854, she must leave the only home she’s ever known, and the man she’s begun to love to accompany her injured father to St. Louis.

Through frequent correspondence with the handsome circuit rider back home, Becky’s heart becomes increasingly knit with his. But when word comes that he is all but engaged to someone else, she must call upon her faith to decipher her future.

Matthew Brody didn’t intend on falling for Becky, but the unexpected relationship, along with the Lord’s gentle nudging, incite him to give up his circuit riding and seek full-time ministry in the town of Miller Creek, with the hope of one day making Becky his bride. But when his old sweetheart comes to town, intent on winning him back—with the entire town pulling for her—Matthew must choose between doing what’s expected and what his heart tells him is right.


About the Author

Cynthia Roemer is an award winning inspirational author from central Illinois. She holds a B.A. in English from U of I of Springfield, IL, specializing in creative writing. A freelance writer since 1988, she has over 100 short stories and articles printed in various Christian publications. Her love of history and writing culminate in this, her debut novel. Under This Same Sky is the first book in her upcoming Prairie Sky Series. Cynthia writes from her family farm where she resides with her husband, Marvin, and their two college-aged sons.

She can be reached via:




Under This Same Sky may be purchased at:

Now, here’s what you’ve been waiting for!!

Click the link below to enter to win a copy of  “Under This Same Sky.”


a Rafflecopter giveaway