Learn How To Write Smashing First and Last Lines

8 1/2 Tips for How to Write Opening and Closing Lines Readers Will Love to Quote

When I’m scanning an Amazon preview to decide if a book is going to be worth my time, the first test is always the opening line. A sloppy, casual, or plain-Jane opening line instantly makes me suspect I’m looking at the work of an author who is an outright amateur or, at the best, someone […]

How to Find Exactly the Right Story Hook Header 2

How to Find Exactly the Right Story Hook

What is your story hook? That can be one of the most frustrating questions for any author—for two reasons. Either you have no idea what your hook is, or you have no idea how to describe it. The good news is both of these scenarios are quite common. The bad news is they’re both deep doo-doo […]

Are You Telling the Wrong Story?

Are You Telling the Wrong Story?

Sometimes the story you start out writing is not the story you end up telling. The beginning and the ending are two different stories–and the inevitable result is that one of those is the wrong story. How can you tell when you’ve got two halves that don’t form a single whole? How can identify which […]

How to Take the Guesswork Out of What Scenes Belong in Your First Act

How to Take the Guesswork Out of What Scenes Belong in Your First Act

Writing the First Act in a story used to terrify me. It felt like walking a tightrope. Blindfolded. In the dark. But that was my own fault. It felt that way for the simple reason that, back then, I had only a vague, intuitive grasp on what I was trying to accomplish in this oh-so-important part […]

2 Ways to Tell You’re Beginning Your Story Too Soon

2 Ways to Tell You’re Beginning Your Story Too Soon

This week’s video presents two important rules of thumb, one for making sure you’re not beginning your story too soon and another for making sure your first chapter is hooking readers. Video Transcript: The beginning is one of the trickiest terrains in any story. There’s just so much we have to juggle for that opening […]

Deadly Story Openers: How to Fix a Boring Characteristic Moment

Deadly Story Openers: How to Fix a Boring Characteristic Moment

This week’s video points out the important duties of a good characteristic moment in your book’s first chapter—and how you can write one that both hooks readers and launches a great plot. Video Transcript: There’s a ton of stuff the beginning of your story has to do and do well, but I think it’s pretty […]

Find Out if Your Prologue Is Destroying Your Story’s Subtext

Find Out if Your Prologue Is Destroying Your Story’s Subtext

You hear it all the time: prologues are evil. (And writers everywhere commence howling.) Now I’ll grant that “evil” is a slight exaggeration. We might call them “dangerous” instead, except that word is pretty ironic, since one of the chief reasons a prologue is so dangerous is because it allows authors to play it waaaaay yonder […]

Why Avalanches, Wolves, and Lightning Storms Aren’t a Good Way to Begin Your Book

Why Avalanches, Wolves, and Lightning Storms Aren’t a Good Way to Begin Your Book

This week’s video cautions against opening with a type of conflict that might initially seem a good idea—and shows you how to figure out the right way to begin your book. Video Transcript: Action. You’re supposed to begin your book with action, right? There has to be some sort of tension and conflict and stakes if […]

Think You Wrote a Great Hook for Your Book’s Beginning? Find Out Why It May Not Be Enough

Think You Wrote a Great Hook for Your Book’s Beginning? Find Out Why It May Not Be Enough

This week’s video talks about one of the most common misconceptions about a great hook for your book’s beginning and shows you how to take grabbing your readers to the next level. Video Transcript: You know all about the hook for your book’s beginning, right? The hook is that tiny, important little bit of awe […]

Are You Leaving This Crucial Ingredient Out of Your Book’s First Chapter?

This week’s video shows how you can take a page from Captain America: The Winter Soldier to hook readers with even a small amount of character development in your book’s first chapter. Video Transcript: Your book’s first chapter is hard. There’s so much you have to cram in there in order to get it to […]