Grigory Ryzhakov – Russian Writer

How Can a Book Befriend You?


Some people say that the best way to write a great story is to write a book you’d want to read yourself. Holden Caulfield, the troubled teenager from The Catcher In The Rye, thought about it in his unique way:
“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.”

Your story needs to be interesting enough to make the reader to want more, it needs to transport the reader into the world he’d like to stay in for longer. This is one of the reasons why book series are so popular. People like to invest into long friendships with someone they like, readers – with books.

How can a book befriend the reader?

It needs to make her feel not just a bystander, but an active participant. One can do that by putting the reader into the character’s shoes.

A narrative style called First person point of view (POV) may be helpful here. If you do it right, you could be the next Susanne Collins or EL James. Your readers would then take up archery or start chasing billionaires at charity events.

Your first person POV’s narrating voice needs to be fresh, distinct and nuanced. But how to achieve that? James Scott Bell tells us it’s all about showing us the character’s attitude.

If you decide to write in the first person POV, then read and analyze the best books written in this style and the ones you think are close to you genre-wise.

To create a better conflict, think about the dark side of your character. Explore this shadow and use it. The story is always better when the external conflict is mirrored in the inner struggle. And it is more real like that.

In his blog post about strategies of making your book viral Larry Brooks deconstructs the latest book sellout phenomenon 50 Shades of Grey by EL James (whom I’ve mentioned earlier in this post). This erotic novel is a part of a book trilogy, which is written in the first person’s POV.

Now you may ask: is a book containing graphic BDSM sex scenes really trying to befriend you? Or it just simply exploits women’s sexual fantasies? Good question, I don’t know. You may call me old-fashioned and prejudiced but I think sex is better “portrayed” on the silver screen, it looks vulgar on a book page. I’m shielding myself from all these rotten eggs you’re throwing at me right now, I may use them for breakfast later on, lol.

But I digress from the topic of friendship. Books don’t betray you, they are always there for you. They only speak when you want them to and they don’t need much space. They won’t judge you but rather thank you if you share them with your friends (provided those friends are not arsonists or shredders). How can a book befriend you? Of course, by giving it all to you and requesting just a little bit of your attention, emotion and thinking.

If you are craving for more writer’s food after this serving, you may want to read my winter post Undercooked novels don’t taste as good as rare steak.

You can also pick up a copy of my short story Usher Syndrome on Amazon Kindle, which is written in the first person’s POV. It’s a tale of love and gene therapy. After receiving an amazing feedback from my readers, I have concocted the follow-up story, which, I am pleased to announce, will be coming out soon. Watch this space.


Your brilliant thoughts


  • Inga

    Grisha, I started loving your article from the very beginning- ‘Some people say that…’ I adore the phrase!) I’m not surprised at all that you use the scientific approach to writing novels in order to make them popular. And I do agree with you about love scenes in books-love is what you feel, and describing all that naturalism with the help of vulgar or overromantic epithets often sounds ridiculous)

    • GrigoryRyzhakov

       Inga, hopefully, I just try to write good stories. One cannot make popular stories, if I had a recipe like that I’d have signed with Penguin by now, he he. Yes, I use  scientific approach to my writing and to many other things, I guess this is just a professional stamp on me )