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 […]

I Just Figured Out What All My Favorite Stories Have in Common—and It Blew My Mind

I Just Figured Out What All My Favorite Stories Have in Common—and It Blew My Mind

This week’s video talks about the secret ingredient that can take even mediocre ideas and turn them into your readers’ favorite stories, worthy of five stars. Video Transcript: For those of you who follow my book reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, you may have noticed I hardly ever give five-star reviews. I read over a […]

In Medias Res: How to Do It and How Not to

This week’s video discusses, not only how to avoid the potential pitfalls of in medias res, but how to take full advantage of its awesomeness. Video Transcript: Nowadays, it’s kind of hard to be a writer and not know about—or at least have heard of—in medias res. This, of course, is the Latin term for […]

4 Big Pitfalls in Story Openings

Today, I’m guest posting on Jane Friedman’s blog, with a post on “4 Big Pitfalls in Story Openings.” Here’s an excerpt: Plant an irresistible hook. Give readers a reason to care about what happens to the characters. Introduce overall tone (satiric, dramatic, etc.). Introduce setting (time and place), conflict, and theme. The beginning of a story is […]

Why Story Beginnings and Endings Must Be Linked

The ending of your story is a loooong way away from the beginning. Three hundred pages or 100,000 words is an extraordinary journey. Contemplating the ending from the vantage point of the beginning is like looking up at the top of Mt. Everest and imagining yourself, in all your windblown, frostbitten glory, standing there with your hands on your […]

10 Questions Your Readers Shouldn’t Have to Ask

The most important thing an author can present here in the beginning of any scene is a question that will hook readers into needing to know the answer. The second most important thing is making certain that question isn’t the wrong question. You want reader’s asking concrete questions. Who stole the Statue of Liberty? How is Westley going […]