Showing posts with label hook. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hook. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Where does your story really start?


I recently went to a writing program where the instructor, writer Amy K Nichols, talked about her first book. She polished and polished the first chapter, as we all do. She got an agent, then sold the book. But after the editor started working on it, she told Amy, "You know, I think your story starts in Chapter 8."

Since then, she's noticed that many people don't start in the right place. Often it's not as drastic as 8 chapters too early. Sometimes it's only a couple of paragraphs.

Now Nichols does a workshop where people get up and read their first couple of pages aloud and the listeners decide where the story should really start. They try to cut out backstory and get right into the meat--or to a killer hook line.

The workshop was really interesting. It made me re-evaluate a short story I wrote that I really like, that I think is better than some the stories I've sold to magazines, yet I just can't find a taker. And you know what? I think Nichols was right. I think the real beginning is about three paragraphs down.

I challenge you to take your current work in progress and read it aloud--to a group of trusted critiquers, to friends who like to read and will be honest, or even just to yourself. This works with non-fiction too. As one travel magazine said in its general guidelines, your article doesn't start the moment you wake up to go to the airport.


Melinda Brasher can't resist photos of teddy bears, animals, and small children reading books (who were perhaps hooked because the author started the story in the right place).  

Her most recent sale is a twist on Rumpelstiltskin, appearing in Timeless Tales. You can also find her fiction in NousElectric SpecIntergalactic Medicine Show, and others. If you're dreaming about traveling to Alaska, check out her guide book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; a Cruise and Port Guide. Visit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com

Friday, March 25, 2016

More ABCs for the New Writer - F-J


If you are a new writer and you missed the A-E tips be sure to review them to get you started in your writing career.


F is for fear. 


It can be scary to begin a new endeavor. It's normal. But if it paralyzes us to the point of not moving forward, we will never be a successful writer.


Questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you trying to be perfect? Nothing is perfect. 
  • Are you afraid of rejection? What one publisher rejects, another will accept.
  • Are you afraid of change? Me, too! You have to do it anyway. Watch what happens
G is for grammar.

Brush up on your grammar. A poorly written cover letter or query tells all. Be meticulous or else you may find your article or transcript submission passed over.


Thanks to the internet, grammar help is one click away.This site gives you 10 websites to assist you.


H is for hook.


To get your reader's attention and hold it, you've got to hook them with the first sentence.


Whether you are writing a book, magazine article, or resume - that first sentence is critical.


Start with a question, use descriptive words, or make the reader curious with some missing details.

  • Do you want to get in shape without going to the gym?
  • Swirling, sparkling snowflakes appeared to fall in slow motion under the yellow glow of the street lamp.
  • The air was thick with rotting garbage. We were afraid to find out what was behind the vine covered door.
I is for inspiration.

Sometimes we reach for the stars when there is no place like home.


What I mean is there is plenty to write about in your own life. You may not be aware of it.


My daughter is a photographer. When she met with the owner of a wedding site, the conversation revealed what her passion was: photographing children and families. It's not that she couldn't do weddings well, but she never realized what really inspired her and she had been doing it all along.


What are your experiences? 


What do you enjoy doing? 


Start out writing what you know. You will be amazed how effortlessly the words flow!


It doesn't stop there. In time, your interests will broaden and you will learn more about what interests you. I recently decided to take an online course on resume writing. I had done a few in the past for myself and family and enjoyed doing it. When I first started writing 4 years ago it wasn't in my mind. Recently, a resume job was posted on one of the job boards and it got me thinking. I live in proximity of 4 colleges. Advertising would be a breeze. And oh my goodness I like writing resumes! So, here we go!


J is for job boards.

As you work consistently, you are sure to connect with successful writers and authors online. I am thankful for them directing me toward reputable sites.

Freelancewriting.com is one of those valuable sites. Here is where you will find some tried and true job boards  to assist you in looking for freelance work.

Looking at job boards every day is part of a good routine for a successful writing career. I am amazed at the need for writers. It never ends. You are sure to find something you can do. Even if you are not sure, go for it anyway. You will feel accomplished as you regularly apply for jobs.

Next month we'll look at K - O. Stay tuned!

Please leave feedback in the comment section if you are a new writer and have tried one of my tips that have helped you.

 Image courtesy of  Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

~~~

After raising and homeschooling her 8 children and teaching art classes for 10 years, Kathy has found time to pursue freelance writing. She enjoys writing magazine articles and more recently had her story, "One of a Kind", published in The Kids' ArkYou can find her passion to bring encouragement and hope to people of all ages at When It Hurts http://kathleenmoulton.com








Monday, March 26, 2012

In the Beginning

The beginning of your story, whether it is a short story or a novel, is the most important part of your book. It is where you hook your reader, and hooking your reader is a definite must. Many a book has been laid down only to never be picked up again because the reader found the first page or two to be boring.

You can have the best character ever created, but you need to get that character into some type of action that will grab and hold onto the reader's attention. He/she needs to be hungry for more and more of your story. So you need to choose an opening action that can be built upon. According to Chris Roerden in Don't Murder Your Mystery, "Caring about the main character is the ultimate hook." This is so true because you can build upon this in so many ways.

The reader needs to identify with the character's feelings, and there must be contradictions of some type. It is good to introduce the main character as quickly as you can into the story. The reader should wonder about who, what, when, where, how, and why. Curiosity will keep them reading. As the author, it is your duty to keep their curiosity going throughout the whole book until the end where you will satisfy and answer all their questions about the story and the main character.

Even though it may be necessary to include backstory and description, these can be added later in the story and must be kept to only what is needed to satisfy your reader's curiosity. Backstory can be worked into the action, adding more interest and adding fuel to the reader's interest. Adverbs and adjectives must be minimized also.

So what is the best hook? One that can be built upon? The main character, of course, and the problems with which he/she will be faced. Remember, the job of a hook is to stretch the reader's interest beyond the first sentence; and if the author does it right, the reader's interest will go well beyond the first chapter.

Which of the following would grab your interest?

It was a dark and stormy night.

Or?

Maggie's hands gripped the gun as she looked down the barrel at the fear in the eyes of the man who raped her.

Faye M. Tollison
Author of To Tell the Truth
Upcoming books: The Bible Murders and Sarah's Secret
www.fayemtollison.com
www.fmtoll.wordpress.com
www.fayetollison.blogspot.com
Member of: Sisters In Crime
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