successfully start a book with a dream

5 Ways to Successfully Start a Book With a Dream

Don’t start a book with a dream.  This has become one of those bits of writing advice that has passed into legend, right along with “show, don’t tell” and “write what you know.” There are so many good reasons for this. Dream openings are notorious for being boring, irrelevant, misleading, and cliched. As a “fake” opening, […]

6 Ways to Set Up Your Story in the First Chapter

Your Ultimate First Chapter Checklist, Pt. 3: Introducing the Story

The reason the first chapter of a story is so complex is because it bears a triple load of responsibility. First, it must hook readers. Then it must offer a compelling and interesting scene of its own. And finally, it must set up the entire story to come. Today, let’s dive into our third and […]

5 Special Tips for Writing Your First Scene

Your Ultimate First Chapter Checklist, Pt. 2: Writing the Opening Scene

First chapters are complicated, which is why writers everywhere need a first chapter checklist. But even the checklists are complicated! Which is why I’ve broken down our exploration of excellent first chapters into three parts. Last week, we talked about what is, arguably, your first chapter’s most important job: hooking readers. But if you’re going […]

Your Ultimate First Chapter Checklist

Your Ultimate First Chapter Checklist, Pt. 1: Hooking Readers

Your story’s first chapter is one of the most important pieces of your story. Not only does it provide the foundation for a solid storyform to come, it is also your first and only chance to pique readers’ curiosity and suck them in. For better or worse, the first chapter is also one of the […]

How to Ace the First Act in Your Sequel

Part 15 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel Sequels are special. On the one hand, they still must follow all the same basic rules of good storytelling. But on the other hand, they both simplify and complicate various aspeof that approach. While the burden of introducing important elements (characters, settings, conflicts) is […]

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 […]