19 Ways to Find Out If Your Light Novel is Awesome or Not

You’re in the middle of writing your first Light Novel (LN) or perhaps just finished and are ready to publish, but a sprout of doubt forms and forces you to ask these questions:

  • How do I know if my Light Novel is any good or not?
  • Would anyone actually read this?
  • If they did, would they even make it to the end of chapter one?
  • What is a ‘good’ story anyway?
  • How much time have I wasted on this piece of hot garbage?

And many more anxiety-inducing questions born of that shriveled up excuse for self-esteem us Authors all seem to have.

But don’t worry. You’re not alone in these fears. All Authors inevitably ask themselves such questions.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to truly know whether or not your LN is good until you publish it and start selling. If it sells and reviews well, then it’s good. If not, well, you can always fix it.

That said, there is no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ fiction. As writing is a form of art, the same methods of evaluation apply. One person might dismiss a painting as bad, while another hangs it in his living room. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that.

HOWEVER. If you want to keep the lights on, you need money. And the only way to make money as an LN Author is to ensure your book sells. You don’t want 1% of readers thinking your book is ‘good’, but 100%.

Good and bad may not apply to art, but popularity does. Certain points-of-view, character relationships, and settings are used over and over to great effect and even greater sales because they work. They may not be ‘good’ to every reader, but they are popular.

And lucky for you, what is popular in fiction is well-defined and easy to apply to your writing.

So, for this article, I’ll go over several popular fiction concepts often considered ‘good’. Take a look at each and see if they apply to your LN. If they do, your LN is most likely good. If they don’t, do your best to incorporate them into your LN in some way.

After that, I’ll cover a few more ‘physical’ methods of determining whether your LN is good or not.

Let’s get started!

Note: I’ll be using the words ‘popular’ and ‘good’ interchangeably from this point. I know I just said there’s no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ art, but I’m going to pretend that there is for the sake of not being confusing.

1. You Have a Well-Realized Story

There is much talk about the need for a high-concept, original story, but there is no such thing.


Because there are no original ideas.

Whatever brilliant original story idea you think you’ve invented, I assure you someone somewhere has already written it.

And that’s OK. Ideas are dirt cheap, it’s the execution that counts.

These girls from K-ON! weren’t the first to ‘save their club from abolishment’ and they certainly weren’t the last. Image Copyright: Pony Canyon

Don’t fret over writing an original story, but brilliantly executing whatever story you want. And by that I mean—have a well-realized story.

Don’t be afraid to have a story similar to the other millions out there (how many times have you seen the same copy-paste Isekai plot?), just make a point to go above and beyond what readers expect from your story.

If your character wants to become the strongest spell-sword in his magic high-school in order to get revenge on the antagonist for the murder of his parents, so be it. Such a story has been written before, but not in the way you (as a unique individual with a unique perspective) can write it. For example, you could:

  • Develop a unique magic system
  • Create lovable characters for the protagonist to interact with
  • Reveal that the antagonist was actually rescuing the protagonist from his insane serial killer parents

Do whatever you want with the most cliched generic concept, but strive to take it a step further and you’re sure to have a good LN.

2. Your Story Has High Stakes

An engaging story is one in which a lot is on the line. Many Authors opt for an ‘end of the world’ story. This is about as high as the stakes can go spare destroying the universe.

However, I advise against those kinds of stakes. Such stakes are impossible for readers to relate to, hard to conceptualize, and a touch absurd when you ask readers to believe that a group of high-schoolers were able to singlehandedly save the world from total destruction.

You can still employ such stakes, but any variety of ‘stakes’ can be considered high if you establish them as such. You can easily create the same level of tension by establishing just how important one thing or another is to your protagonist.

Let’s take Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? for example. All the protagonist in that novel wants is an electric sheep. To him, it’s a sign of wealth, of prosperity, it proves to himself and others that he’s made it in his world. Dick well establishes how important that sheep is to the protagonist and readers cheer him on as he does everything he can to get one.

The sheep itself is objectively worthless to readers. We can’t relate to wanting an electric sheep in particular, but we can relate to the desires to feel important or to have nice things to improve our own self-worth.

Whether or not your story has high stakes or not is entirely dependent on whether or not you establish them as high. Getting to the movie theatre on time can be just as anxiety inducing to a reader as the world ending would. Conversely, the world ending could be considered ‘low’ stakes if your protagonist doesn’t seem too bothered by it.

3. Your Story Isn’t a Bunch of Unrelated Events

The type of story most readers deem boring are those told in a ‘and then’ fashion.

Saori goes to the mall and then steals a dress and then goes to a dance and then gets invited to an afterparty and then tries to rob a liquor store and then gets arrested.

The content of such a story might be objectively interesting, but the way it’s told is boring and often lacking in cohesion.

If the scenes in your LN could be rearranged without any negative effects, you’ve unfortunately written a ‘and then’ story. No one wants to read a story in which a bunch of random things with a bunch of random people happen. Such a story is confusing and boring at best.

Instead, write a ‘but, therefore’ story. An article telling you how can be found here.

Saori is going to a dance tonight, but doesn’t have a dress, therefore she goes to the mall. She finds one she likes, but doesn’t have enough money to afford it, therefore she puts it on in the dressing room and hides it by wearing her other clothes over it. And then, she goes to the dance and gets invited to an after party, but only if she provides the alcohol, therefore she tries stealing some from a liquor store and gets arrested.

The same events go on, but each is a direct result of the last. Every event in the story has some cause and a resulting effect. This gives your story cohesion and engages readers.

Feel free to toss in a ‘and, then’ on occasion (like I did), but never tell a story that is nothing but ‘and then’s.

4. Your Readers Keep Reading Page After Page

A good LN is one that readers can’t put down until they reach the end. LNs that achieve this are packed full of incentive for readers to keep reading.

This effect is hard to achieve because it’s a combination of every factor of your LN (story, characters, and world), but there are two effective techniques that will turn your LN into a page-turner.


If you end every scene and chapter on a cliffhanger, readers will feel they have no choice but to continue. However, this only works if you write an effective cliffhanger. And that requires that both the stakes of your story and your characters’ motivations have been well established.

If Marika is about to be beheaded, but we have no idea who she is or why she’s being beheaded, then it would be a complete waste to use that as a cliffhanger. Few readers will hate you for using too many cliffhangers, but every reader will hate you for using them poorly.

Most are unable to stop watching Kaiji because of it’s excellent use of cliffhangers. The protagonist’s life is always on the line and watchers can’t wait to see how he escapes each seemingly impossible situation. Image Copyright: VAP

Make Each Scene Matter

You need to make each scene matter to your LN as a whole. If you established in chapter one that your protagonist needs to reach the lost underground city of wiggywoodopolis in order to retrieve his ancestor’s magical propellor hat, then every subsequent chapter needs to reflect his quest.

Each scene needs to be moving him closer to that goal. If it doesn’t, then readers will have little incentive to keep reading as they’ll most likely have no idea why he’s goofing off at a carnival instead of pursuing his original goal.

5. Your Story is Focused and Doesn’t Confuse Readers

This ties into the previous point. As noted earlier, your story should be a series of buts and therefores; causes and effects. Visualize your story as a giant chain and each chapter and scene as the individual chain-links. If you remove any one of them, the entire story (chain) falls apart.

And to take the metaphor even further—if one link is a totally different shape or size than the rest, it won’t fit with the other links, which also results in the chain falling apart.

Your story needs to be focused and make cohesive sense as a whole. Each chain-link not only needs to be similar to the last (in content, theme, genre, etc.), but also fit into the chain.

If your characters are fighting a legion of diseased, misshapen elves in chapter five and hitting the hot springs in chapter six without any explanation as to why, your story has lost its focus.

A lack of focus only serves to break a reader’s immersion (which will cause them to put your LN down) and confuse them.

The end of each chapter needs to logically tie into or justify the opening of the next chapter.

If your characters battle ended in chapter five and one of them suggested hitting the hot springs to clean up, then it makes perfect sense for them to be there in chapter six. It’s only when you fail to address the reasons for each part of your LN that it becomes unfocused.

6. Your Characters are Proactive and Motivated

The worst characters are ones that sit around and mope about their problems without ever doing anything about them. They’re one-dimensional and a bore to read about for an entire LN.

Conversely, a good character is a proactive character. Just think of any story you enjoyed and describe the protagonist.

Most likely she found herself in a dismal situation and did everything she could to change it or escape from it. That or she found others who were suffering and did her best to rescue them. Either way, she didn’t just wait for someone else to come save her.

But it’s not enough to just have a proactive character. To garner sympathy from readers and to be believable, she also needs well-defined motivations.

A heroine who fights for justice because it’s the ‘right thing to do’ is nowhere near as interesting as one who does so because those she’s fighting against those responsible for razing her hometown to the ground.

People never do things without a reason or ‘just because’. Neither should your characters.

7. Your Characters Have Dynamic Relationships

The majority of popular fiction features characters bound to one another in some way. The most typical are blood or romantic relationships. Others include classmates or close friends.

In any case, your characters should never be strangers, at least not for long. Obviously, if your protagonist gets isekai’d into another world, everyone will be a stranger.

And if they stay that way, your LN will assuredly be bad. Strangers interacting with each other in fiction is often as boring and awkward as it is in real life.

Instead, take those strangers and make them your protagonist’s companions. In short, have him enjoy dynamic relationships with your other characters.

Shidou and Tohka from Date A Live don’t stay strangers for long. Shidou makes an immediate effort to get to know Tohka by trying to make her fall in love with him. Image Copyright: AIC

This means each relationship needs to evolve as your LN unfolds. The characters need to grow closer and learn more about each other. Static relationships with minor characters might be OK, but such a relationship between your major characters will result in readers finding something better to do.

8. Each of Your Characters Has a Character Arc

Just as their relationships with one another need to evolve, so do your characters themselves.

A protagonist who begins his story burning with a desire for vengeance and stays that way by the end is unbelievable at best. At some point in the story, he should’ve learned that revenge is ultimately hollow and results in a never-ending circle of hatred.

That may sound cliched, but it’s what readers expect. If you don’t deliver, readers will be led to believe your protagonist failed to learn anything and had no character arc at all. Which is often considered bad and boring.

Readers love to see characters learn and grow as a result of what happens to or around them in the story. Should they fail to do so, they’ll likely be regarded as one-dimensional and unrealistic.

No matter how minor the character, it’s important to have them react to the story in some way no matter how small lest they come off as braindead MMO quest-givers.

9. Your World Gives Readers a Sense of Wonder

Your LN doesn’t need to be set in an exotic Isekai to be good. But it wouldn’t hurt. The best settings are ones that make readers think: “I wish I lived in a world like that.” or, if you’re writing a dystopia: “I’m glad I don’t live in a world like that.”

Your world should inspire readers and give them a sense of wonder.

But again, it doesn’t need to be objectively inspiring. A podunk South Dakota town of 928 people can be just as interesting as a high-school for psychics on Mars if you’re willing to put in the work.

An inspiring world is a well-realized one. Take time to give your world an intriguing history, pack it full of unique locations and memorable characters, and do everything you can to make it feel real and bring it to life.

The school on Mars would be dreadfully boring if the Author failed to describe why it’s there, how they’re able to breathe, what the characters are doing there, and so on.

Don’t detract from your story and characters by spending twenty pages detailing your world, but don’t forget about it either. It’s the small details that matter most when it comes to giving readers that sense of wonder they read fiction for in the first place.

10. You Know How to Use Your Chosen Point-of-View

It’s not my cup of tea, but the most popular stories are often told in past tense and from a Third-Person Perspective (TPP). The logic is that it’s easier to tell a cohesive, comprehensive story when you have multiple angles to tell it from.

Saori might tell readers she had to steal the dress because her deadbeat mother takes all her money, but her friend Yui could let readers know Saori actually blew it all on junk food and cigarettes.

Conversely, a First-Person Perspective (FPP) locks readers into the mind and opinions of your protagonist. Readers can never know the full truth of the story because of both the protagonist’s limited perspective and that he might not even be telling the truth, unreliable narrators being rather frequent in FPP stories.

Araragi’s way of looking at the world is fascinating, but flawed. Yet, because the story is in First-Person, we tend to agree with him until other characters challenge him on his beliefs. Image Copyright: Aniplex

Whichever you choose to write your LN in, you must take care to:

Stick To It

Nothing breaks a reader’s immersion harder than when a story suddenly switches point-of-view. One LN I read had a Limited-TPP (told in TPP, but entirely from the protagonist’s POV), but suddenly switched to another character’s perspective once the protagonist got knocked out.

It was really late in the LN, made absolutely no sense, and was rather jarring because it hadn’t been established before. Had they switched perspectives between chapter one and two, I wouldn’t have minded, but because they kept the same POV during chapters 1-9 and switched it on 10, I had my immersion obliterated.

Whatever POV you pick, stick with it lest you annoy and confuse readers.

Implement It Well

Whatever POV you pick, don’t just use it without first learning how. There is an art to every POV. Research how to use yours well and read plenty of other fiction that have implemented it well as to give you an idea of how it works. Conveniently, we have an article covering how to pick the best POV for your LN.

11. You Can Read Your Whole Light Novel Out Loud

A LN accused of being bad usually contains these:

  • Unnatural-sounding dialogue
  • Clunky, hard-to-read sentences
  • Awkward / weird word choices or phrases

Good novels are likely to have a few of these, but not enough for readers to notice. It’s when they do notice that your reviews begin a downward trend.

However, such problems are an easy fix.

One of my favorite ways to edit my LNs is to read the entire thing out loud. No, I’m not kidding. In fact, I do it twice (or more) just to make sure.

This is a totally different editing experience compared to just reading it. You’re forced to actually take stock of each word, how it sounds, and its place in the sentence in order to properly say it out loud.

This allows you to easily tell when something isn’t quite right. If at any point during your ‘talkthrough’, you think: “this sounds weird” or “no would ever say this in real life”, you should fix it immediately.

Once you can read your whole LN out loud without getting tripped up, you’ll be a huge step forward to knowing your LN is good.

12. You Deliver on What You Promised in the Beginning

For readers, the first few pages of your LN set its tone and atmosphere for the rest of the story. Whether you maintain that tone and atmosphere or not is irrelevant. Your LN’s first impression will be firmly set in a reader’s mind.

So, in order to be considered good, your LN needs to deliver what it initially promised in terms of tone, character voice, atmosphere, theme, genre, and all those other little aspects of your LN that no one spare Literature professors discuss, but still lurk in the back of every reader’s subconscious.

Good LNs each have a certain ‘vibe’ you are well aware of, but have trouble defining. Yours can too, but it is a conscious effort that you have to keep in check.

If you keep changing these elements at random throughout your LN, you will both confuse and annoy readers, which is well, bad.

This is easily achieved by making a point to write your LN all at once. Long breaks between writing sessions will make staying consistent far harder than necessary. But even if it is riddled with problems, you can still fix it in your editing phase.

13. Your Light Novel Does More Showing than Telling

As I’m sure you’ve heard a million times, good writing shows instead of tells. There are a million different ways to define ‘show, don’t tell’, but in short:

Telling: I felt a cool breeze on my face as I watched a flock of birds fly into the sky that was the color of what reminded me of lavender.

Showing: A cool breeze tickled my nose as a flock of birds soared high into the lavender sky.

This concept isn’t one anyone can explain without an example, so there. Telling is boring, clunky, and provides no immersion. Showing is much cleaner, more evocative, and easy to get immersed in.

Take a look at each of your sentences and make sure you’re doing more showing than telling. It’s important to just tell when your story demands it, so don’t be afraid of telling, but never tell when showing would be better.

14. You Think Your Light Novel is Good

Ok, that sounds dumb. I know. But seriously, if at any point you find yourself bored with your LN or are forcing yourself to write about things that are popular but you yourself don’t like, just stop. There is no reason to press on. No matter what you do, such an LN will turn out bad.

Instead, write about that which you love and care about and you’ll both have fun writing and be compelled to treat it right. If you find it boring or hate it, your readers will share those feelings tenfold if they can even make it past the first page.

Muramasa from Eromanga Sensei became a LN author because she thought everything on the market was bad and decided the only good LN would be one she wrote herself. She loves her LNs, so should you. Image Copyright: Aniplex

One thing I say to myself over and over while writing is: “If I thought it was bad, I wouldn’t have written it.”

Regardless of whether it’s good or not, I still like it. And even if it’s only to me—my LN is good.

Even if everyone thinks it’s bad, at the very least one person will think it’s good, you. And you’ll have gotten a lot of writing practice done in the process.

If you don’t think your LN is good, it probably isn’t.

However, if you find yourself laughing at or getting wrapped up in your own LN, it’s bound to be good. Even though I wrote them, I still crack up at certain scenes in my LNs. If you’re having fun reading your LN, your readers most likely will too.

15. Edit Your Light Novel 387 Times

Maybe not that many. Though it wouldn’t be a bad start. Anyway, editing your LN is far more important than many Authors are led to believe.

Traditionally published Authors have the bulk of editing done by professionals and don’t have to worry about doing much editing themselves.

Us LN Authors, however, are 99.9% of the time going to be self-publishing and thus need to do as much editing on our own as we can.

Readers can spot an unedited novel a million miles away and will go out of their way to leave a bad review focused solely on the bad editing. It doesn’t matter how good your LN is if it gives readers a seizure when they try to read it.

So, edit, edit, and edit again.

I go through several phases. The first and last are ‘soft-edits’ when I just read through my LN and spot check for issues.

Second, I do a ‘hard-edit’ in which I go line-by-line and spend huge amounts of time (2 hours for 10 pages) making sure everything is perfect in terms of grammar, tone, voice, etc.

Finally, I do a couple of those ‘talkthroughs’ mentioned above, reading everything out loud.

Sure enough, I find new issues and typos with every edit. You really could edit it 387 times and probably still find something to fix. Which leads to my next point…

16. Have Your Light Novel Professionally Edited

Yes, after editing it 387 times, you should still have your LN professionally edited. When you spend so much time with your LN, you just naturally go blind to certain issues. A different set of eyes will find all the issues you can’t.

Traditionally published novels typically go through three stages of editing.

  1. Structural, or Big Picture Editing: Accounts for the LN as a whole and addresses any issues with scene pacing and placement, character arcs, world-building, and any other key elements making up the core content of your LN.
  2. Line Editing: Or ‘hard’ editing as I called it earlier. Takes stock of the actual text and fixes issues with grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Also fixes consistency issues regarding character voice and tone, cleans up clunky sentences, and removes any out-of-place or redundant/repetitive text. In short, this phase doesn’t care about your story content, only the words used to tell your story.
  3. Proofreading: The same as the ‘soft’ edit I mentioned. A proofreader will do a simple final check of a book before declaring it ready to publish.

As you can see, that’s a whole lot of editing. Writing your LN is the easy part, it’s all the small details that really count when it comes to a book becoming a bestseller.

While you might could skip the first or third if you’re confident, I still recommend having a professional ‘hard’ edit your LN.

If you’re still finding errors after your tenth edit, you can be assured there are plenty you, an amateur editor, have yet to uncover. Errors that readers, despite not being editors, will somehow find within five seconds of opening your LN.

Seriously, just go find any self-published novel in any genre and most of the negative reviews will be directed at the editing even though these critics probably couldn’t pass 8th grade English.

17. Hire Beta-Readers to Critique Your Light Novel

The only way to truly know if your novel is good or not is to get it into the hands of readers. But publishing is scary, so you’d better hire some beta readers before releasing your LN to the entire world.

These could be literally anyone you know or strangers you hire online or in-person. However, I don’t suggest asking people you know as they’re not as likely to provide an honest opinion.

They might point out a few typos or sections where they were confused, but won’t provide the harsh criticism you need to hear simply because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.

That and unless they spend a lot of time reading LNs, they won’t know if yours is any good or not because they have no frame of reference.

Instead, find strangers who fit in your target audience (i.e. Otaku) and pay them to read and critique your LN. Assuming they like LNs and your LN’s genre, they should be able to provide honest, constructive criticism because they don’t care whether you cry yourself to sleep later because of their critiques.

Beta readers can give you a good idea of how your target audience will receive your LN upon publication. If you don’t like what you hear from your beta readers, you’ll probably want to resolve those issues before publishing.

18. Have Your Light Novel Critiqued by Other Writers

If you’re too broke to hire beta readers or would rather engage in a long-form discussion about your LN, join a writer’s group. Whether online or in-person, there are plenty writer’s groups that are dedicated to helping each other write novels.

In exchange for beta-reading and critiquing other members’ novels, they’d likely be happy to critique yours. This method may not work as well given that there probably aren’t many writer’s groups dedicated to LNs, but it’s definitely worth a shot.

19. Publish Your Light Novel as a Web Novel

Many LNs (both JP and Non-JP) start out as Web Novels. If they garner a large enough fanbase, the Author might decide to put it up for sale or, in the case of JPLNs, a major publishing house will traditionally publish it.

It can be tremendously beneficial to build up a fanbase before publishing your LN. And the best platform to find a fanbase is online.

Publish a few chapters of your LN, maybe even the whole thing, as a Web Novel and see what readers have to say.

Most likely they’ll be your target audience, so their opinions and critiques will be of great use to you. And because they don’t know you, they’ll be happy to let you know just how good or bad your LN really is.

Once you resolve any issues your Web Novel readers address, you’ll be even closer to publishing a good LN.

There Are Plenty of Ways to Know Whether You Have a Great Light Novel or Not

So, there. Just do all the things on this list (and a million others) and you’ll be ready to publish your LN! It’s that easy!

Seriously though, you’ll never know whether your LN is good or not until you start getting feedback from readers who took the time to purchase and read your LN.

If they liked it, great, keep it up.

If not, don’t fret, you can learn from your mistakes and make an even better LN next time.

Becoming a bestselling LN Author won’t happen overnight. You need to be prepared to put in a ton of extra effort in order to stand out from the millions of other things fighting for your potential readers’ attention.

This list is a good start, but it isn’t set in stone. What might work for one Author might not work for your specific audience. I hate 3rd-Person Perspective and think that some Authors waste too much of my time showing when they could’ve just told me.

Playing by the rules might make you popular, but never write what you hate or your readers will see right through your charade.

Write the LN you want to write, but don’t come crying to me when only five people buy it…ok, you can, but I’ll just make you read more articles on this website so you can become a better writer.


Hey, my name's Azuma. I first dove deep into Otaku culture in 2010 and never quite grew out of it. After a million different anime, light novels, manga, and visual novels, I learned a lot about each art form. Knowledge I want to share with you from writing advice to drawing tips. I'm also the Author of two light novels series, Garden of PSI and On Creating the Ultimate Weapon. Happy creating!

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