How to Tell if Your Story Begins Too Soon

This week’s video talks about a few of the problems and warning signs when a story begins too soon. Video Transcript: Authors are always being warned not to begin their stories too soon. The idea of beginning in medias res—or “in the middle of things”—is popular these days because it plunges readers into the plot […]

Hook Readers With a Sneak Peek

This week’s video discusses how to hook readers with a “flashforward” at the beginning of your novel, similar to the one Edna Ferber used in Show Boat. Video Transcript: As many followers of my website probably already know, I am not a big fan of prologues or other gimmicky framing techniques for the beginning of […]

How Much Should You Explain in a Story’s Beginning?

This week’s reviews some of the pitfalls of info dumping in a story’s beginning – and how to avoid them. Video Transcript: One of the trickiest parts of any story is the beginning, and one of the trickiest parts of the beginning is figuring out how to balance the need to keep the story moving […]

Dream a Little Dream—But Not in Your Fiction

This week’s video digs into the reasons why dream sequences are almost always a bad choice for your fiction. Don’t forget that the Grand Prize Giveaway, celebrating the launch of Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success, is still underway. Enter for a chance to win a Kindle, over $100 in writing craft books, and […]

5 Elements of a Riveting First Line

The opening line of your book is your first (and, if you don’t take advantage of it, last) opportunity to grab your reader’s attention and give him a reason to read your story. That’s a gargantuan job for a single sentence. But if we break down opening lines, we discover a number of interesting things. […]

Why the Human Element Is All-Important to the Beginning of Your Story

This week’s video uses an example from China Miéville’s steampunk fantasy Perdido Street Station to illustrate why it’s so important for your characters to grab readers right from the beginning of your story. Video Transcription: The beginning of any story is a checklist of must-have elements. One of those elements is providing the reader with […]

Why Opening With a Characteristic Moment Is So Important

This week’s video explains how Howard Hawks’s classic western Red River used the characteristic moment as foreshadowing and framing. Video Transcription: One of the opening scene’s most important jobs is introducing the main character as someone the reader will find worth his time. This is best accomplished by opening with the protagonist in a “characteristic […]

opening chapter

Use a Question to Create an Unforgettable Opening Chapter

Creating an opening chapter that hooks readers into your story is the trick you have to master in every one of your stories. But once you know the secret of a good opening chapter, it’s not so tricky. The single most important element in convincing a reader to continue reading past your first page is […]

do you need a prologue header

Do You Need a Prologue? One Way to Tell

Do you need a prologue? This question confronts authors in every story they write. Unfortunately, in large part because authors don’t always understand the true function of prologues (and epilogues), the answer often results in unnecessary padding. So can how can you tell when you need a prologue in your story? And when don’t you need […]

integral components of a story's beginning

The 3 Integral Components of a Story’s Beginning

Today, I’m honored to be hosted by Larry Brooks on his fabulous site Storyfix. Be sure to stop by his site to read my guest post “The 3 Integral Components of a Story’s Beginning.” Below is a sneak peek: Beginnings are tough for a number of reasons, not least among them the fact that we’re wading blind into […]