7 Tips for Opening Your Story In Medias Res

In medias res is the useful but sometimes tricky writing technique of beginning your story “in the middle” of things. At its most basic, this is simply a solid reminder to begin your story with something happening. This might be action in the traditional sense, but it might also just be the character moving toward […]

Clearing Up Some Misconceptions About In Medias Res

One of the most significant challenges for writers is crafting a beginning chapter that immediately grabs readers. Most commonly, writers are advised to accomplish this via two different methods: the hook and the technique of beginning in medias res, or “in the middle of things.” But are these really two different techniques? And if not, […]

Understanding the Normal World of a Story’s First Act

No matter their genre or focus, stories are about something happening—a shift in the status quo. Where the characters begin is not where they end. This may refer to their literal physical surroundings, or to a more metaphorical state of being—or, very possibly, to both. Whatever the case, it is important for authors to understand […]

The Link Between Your Story’s Hook and Resolution

On a theoretical level, art often comes down to patterns. As readers and even writers we are not always conscious of these patterns, but whenever we are able to recognize that a story works—or does not work—usually what we are responding to is the comparative effectiveness of certain underlying patterns. This is perhaps nowhere more […]

Critique: 7 Possible Hooks for Your Opening Chapter

What are some good hooks for your opening chapter? This is a question every writer must ask at the beginning of a story. How can we introduce the story and the characters in a plot-pertinent way that also deeply interests readers? A good hook sets your book apart. It promises readers you’re going to deliver […]

Critique: 6 Tips for Introducing Characters

Most of the time, I hate real-life introductions. For one thing, I almost always forget the person’s name in the rush of shaking hands, smiling, and saying something charmingly banal. Then there’s the small talk, important but often tedious. Squirm. But that’s most of the time—because occasionally I run into one of those special people […]

Critique: 10 Ways to Write a Better First Chapter Using Specific Word Choices

The one thing all writers are trying to do is write a better first chapter. First chapters are do-or-die territory. We know this as writers because we know this as readers. Most of us make our reading choices after scanning the first few paragraphs of a story. Sometimes we know if we want to go […]

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 […]