The Best Way to Make Use of Your Story’s Normal World

Writers can’t afford to waste readers’ time or test their patience by meandering about in their opening scenes. At first glance, this would seem to mean you have to get right to the point of the story. You might feel compelled to open your story right at the moment when your character’s world is changed […]

Want to Hook Readers With Your First Chapter? This Is the Single Best Way

Want to Hook Readers With Your First Chapter? This Is the Single Best Way

Today, I’m over on AuthorCulture, with the post “Hook Readers With an Opening Question.” Here’s an excerpt: Writers are told time and again to start their first chapter with a bang. If you open in the middle of a murder, a high-speed car chase, or heist-in-progress, readers will be instantly hooked, right? How is it, then, that Margaret Atwood […]

How to Strengthen Your Story with Proper Framing

How to Strengthen Your Story With Proper Framing

Framing is a useful, but too often overlooked, technique that gives your story a sense of cohesion and directs readers’ loyalties and attention. What Is Framing? Frames bookend a story with a definitive opening scene (that introduces readers to pertinent characters, settings, and themes) and a closing scene (that brings the story to a resonant […]

Maximize Your Story’s Inciting Event

5 Ways to Maximize Your Story’s Inciting Event

The Inciting Event is the moment your character’s world is forever changed. It knocks over the first domino in the line of dominoes that forms your plot. It sets off an irrevocable chain reaction that will eventually lead your character to the maelstrom of your Climax. So how do you go about creating an Inciting […]

The 4-Step Checklist for Your Story’s Opening Scene

Your story’s opening scene is always going to be tricky. It has to accomplish all kinds of goals in very little time and few words. Today, let’s look at the four things your story’s opening scene needs to check off its list–starting with the single most important one. The Most Important Job of an Opening Scene Arguably, […]

The “Establishing Shot”–and 9 More Ways to Strengthen Your Story’s Beginning

Just for the record: I hate beginnings. The first fifty pages of my novels are inevitably torture to write. I’m always sure I’ve lost my touch, convinced that every successful story in the past was a fluke, absolutely certain I’ll never make these opening scenes gripping enough to hook a reader. And it’s no wonder. […]

Secret Storytelling Weapon: The Book’s Back Cover

What’s the first thing most readers look at when they pick up a book? If they’re anything like me, their attention is first snagged by the cover art, the title, and the author name, and from there they flip the book over and a take a gander at the back cover or the inside jacket […]

Character: The Most Important Part of Your Story’s Beginning

If all of writing was as difficult as the first 50 pages, I probably would have wimped out years ago and found myself a new vocation. (Something easy and safe—like being a Walmart greeter or maybe the collector of the quarters from Laundromat machines.) Despite the fact that I already know every plot turn that […]

when not to skip the prologue

When Not to Skip the Prologue

If you read last week’s post, “Skip the Prologue,” you’ve hopefully seen some of the reasons prologues are often a bad idea. Even prologues that escape being boring information dumps tend to delve into the dangerous waters of distancing a reader from the main story. Having invested their interest and emotion in a prologue, a […]

Skip the Prologue!

Writers have an ongoing love affair with the prologue. You know, that chapter before a chapter inserted at the beginning of a book, intended to fill the reader in on important need-to-know info, so that he and the writer will be on the same page when they dive into the “real” beginning of the story. […]