One of the most important jobs we have as writers is to make sure that we grab the readers interest right from the get go. The second, of course, being that we keep that interest throughout. But without that initial hook, the latter becomes redundant.
So how quickly do you need to get that hook in?
Some schools of thought say it should be the very first sentence. That’s when you need to grab the reader. Personally I’m not a big fan of this method. Yes, your opening line is important, but should you rely on that one sentence to carry the burden of everything that follows? In my opinion it’s too much pressure. It also increases the chances of the dreaded purple prose.
We all know that one. It is probably one of the most derided openings in the history of literature.
My own preference is that the first page should be the hook. Maybe even that entire first chapter or the prologue if that is how the story is structured. But that first page will allow you to set the feel of the prose. You can go into more detail and give your audience a richer insight. What we want them to do is to want to look beyond that opening. To turn the page and become invested. You can have the greatest opening line ever penned but if the rest of that page doesn’t match up to that standard, they will lose their interest very quickly. A narrative is a marathon, not a sprint. Remember, no one turns the page after the first sentence.
You have the space to build your opening. Use it wisely.
What’s the first rule of writing your first draft? Don’t edit while you write. Just get it down, no going back and forth.
Well screw that, I’m a rebel and thats just what I’ve been doing today. And it really drove home how the “Rules of Writing” really just a guideline. I mean who actually decided on them?
It is something people seem to get a bit hung up on though. I see it a lot in writing groups, writing guides and anywhere that offers advice to struggling writers. The concept of just get it written and worry about edits later is good advice but remember it’s not set in stone. You can write however you want.
Today is a prime example. Sometimes an idea will come to mind long that will change the flow of the narrative. It will be a good idea, one that takes the story into new territory. But there’s a problem. It contradicts a large portion of what you have already written and you get a large, gaping…
*Cue 1950s horror scream*
So what do you do? Do you just leave it and wait until the first edit? Or do you go ahead and do a rewrite? My advice is to ask yourself a few questions.
How big of a change is this?
Are you on deadline?
Can the story go ahead without an immediate change?
Will you remember to make the change?
If you decide to wait, will you really be able to fit it in properly?
This last one is the most important. What you don’t want is to have your manuscript finished and then have an early chapter that feels shoehorned in. Imagine yourself as the reader. Will it seem obvious that it was a late edit? Will it disrupt the flow?
We all read here and I’m sure we all hate when a sudden interruption happens. Personally it’s made me put a book down in the past.
So don’t worry about following “The Rules” to the letter. They are very much like the pirates code. Basically guidelines rather than rules. Do what works best for you and find your own style and way of doing things.
Well I finally pulled the trigger and decided to take a week off from my (nesessary evil) day job. This is my first proper time off since Christmas so I’d say it was about time. I’ve decided to use this time to write. Nothing else, just write. And so far I’m loving this. In fact I might never go back.
Everyday I’ve actually been excited to get up and get going. It’s a wonderful feeling and not one I’ve had in a long time. It has also made me realise how much I don’t like being around people. Right now it’s just myself and my three furry familiars. The only downside is that I may be developing a slight addiction to chai. Yes I know the stereotype is coffee but unfortunately that is not an option these days.
So do i think I could dedicate myself to this full time? Honestly yes I do. For the first time ever I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I’ve spoken about the dreaded imposter syndrome that plagues all of the arts before but for the first time I’m not feeling it. It simply feels…right. I can see this becoming a bit more of a regular thing for me. No more making excuses or allowing other things to gt in the way and stop the writing. I really feel like I’m ready to make this happen.
So enough of me babbling on here about ebing deliriously happy and contented. Time to put the kettle on, make a cup of chai and get cracking. The PRD have an adventure to go on and a date with a very dark and evil concisouness.
As I mentioned in my Writers Cramp post, I’m taking a bit of a break from the giddy world of childrens books and getting back to my horror roots. As many of you know I’m a massive fan of the genre and it’s where I started oh so many years ago. So, it is my great pleasure to announce the start of a new WIP: Evensong. This is the story of a long abandoned and much cursed asylum. Forgotten over the years, Evensong was a place where people were not sent to heal but instead to be forgotten.
I won’t go into too much detail here but there is a brief synopsis under the WIP section. Over the coming weeks I will introduce you to the cast of characters, including the members of the PRD; The Parapsychical Research Department. A little known and long forgotten government agency.
We are all familiar with the typical ghosthunter team goes to old hospital and gets eaten, fondled and genrelly messed up by vengeful ghosts trope. Evensong is going to be something different. The PRD are not amateurs, they are not flashy television celebrities; they are professionals who have faced more than their share of what lurks in our deepest nightmares.
So sit back and enjoy the coming character profiles. There is a darkness that is waking up and it is hungry.
Everyone has heard of writers block but there is another malady that is less known outside of writing circles: Writer’s cramp.
Okay I may have just totally made that up but it’s a good analogy for what I’ve been feeling latley. Think of it like going back to the gym for the first time on over a year (something quite a few can relate to right now). Those mucles that you used to exercise on a regular basis have been neglected and they re not happy with the sudden shock of being put through their paces. You’ve maybe put on a few pounds since last time because it’s cream egg season and you have to get as many in as you can before they vanish again. So without thinking, you hop back on the treadmill and off you go. Five minutes later you’re being knifed in the ribs by an unseen gremlin.
Well writing can be very much like that as I discovered recently. The writing process can be very much like exercising. The more you do it, the stronger you get and the better your endurance. Spend enough time away though, your fitness level will start to drop down and you need to take a few steps back so you don’t do yourself a mischief. This is what happens after a prolonged bought of writers block. Like the one I’ve been going through for the past year.
The block finally shifted about a week ago after what was a pretty horrific dream. As awful as it was, this dream did grab my block by the throat, drag it into a dark alleyway and nick its wallet. The muse had returned and to be honest I don’t think she’s been taking her meds. So here I am once again writing. After two years of working on childrens stories, I’ve returned to my roots and started on a new horror novel. And you know what, I’m loveing every second of it.
Until the cramp sets in that is. Instead of being stabbed in the ribs like you would in the gym, this one punches you in the brain. Like right inside the brain. It all started like normal; a bit of research, make notes, plan things out, the usual. Then comes the day to start writing and get these wild ideas out of the meaty blob in my head and onto the screen. One sentence, then two, everything is going well and suddenly it hits you. You can’t remember how to convert those ideas into words. You can see it in your head but the pathways that go from your brain to your fingers are running on a go slow. What you have on the screen is not what you have in your head. All those bad habits you had trained yourself out of are coming back. Things like editing on the go and being able to filter out the 200 ideas that are all fighting for your attention.
So here I am writing for the first time in ages and I haven’t even managed to finish the prologue yet because the damn story keeps changing. And every new idea needs to be tied in with what’s already been written. It hurts but if you take it slow and steady, you can get back to that level of writer fitness before the block came on. Slow and steady is the key. If this ever hits you, the best advice I can give you is to let yourself work back up. Don’t be hard on yourself if the words don’t come like they used to straight away. You will get there again.
Right I need to start kicking my own ass if I am ever to be a successful writer. I’m finding it difficult to get anything done and very easy to get distracted at the moment. True, the move to the new cottage hasn’t really been conducive to a creative environment but that’s not really a good enough excuse. I have to admit that I miss my weekly writing get together with my dear friend and muse Cherie. The challenges we would set each other was a fantastic motivator.
That is why I am going to set myself a challenge. Over the month of August I am going to write at least one short story a week. If at the end of the week I have succeeded, I shall reward myself with something delicious. Probably a trip to the chippy (my favourite thing).
I know it’s still July but as there are only a couple of days left I’m going to start today. By the end of the week you should see a post on here with a link to the completed version of At Sleeps Twilight Gate.
So there I was, ploughing through Dead Beat with Rob Zombie blaring through the house from my computer speakers, when all of a sudden I made the shocking discovery of having and empty tea mug. In a movement reminiscent of ALL of the slow motion fight scenes in 300, I grabbed the empty beverage receptacle (The cool one with the pirate flag on it) and gracefully vaulted over my desk. The mug still in my hand, I made my final run towards the kitchen. My goal was in sight and victory in my grasp when the fates sent one of their minions to stop me.
“CHIHUAHUA” I screamed
My Ninja Writer reflexes,taught to me by the Writer Ninja monks of Southern New England), instantly took over and I thrust my body in to the air. I looked down on my adversary as I flew overhead. My body was almost at then end of the somersault when I was able to put the mug safely on the counter AND turn on the kettle as momentum drew me forward. Both tasks completed, I landed on the kitchen floor, on both feet, in a pose that has only ever before been accomplished by the love child of Jackie Chan and Chuck Norris.
(Now wasn’t that way more interesting than me saying “I got up and made myself a cup of tea”?)
And what response do I get from the other residents of the kitchen?
“Do you really write to that music?” from the mother-in-law
After all that, after all the slow-mo awesomeness that took me a good five minutes to make up you ask me how I can write when listening to Rob Zombie?
I think I replied with some BS about RZ being an artist and needing to immerse myself in another artists work to stimulate my creative…yadda yadda yadda. I mean is it weird to listen to something like Rob Zombie? I don’t think so but then I’m hardly subjective. Personally I find the music I listen to will change depending on mood and what I am writing at the time. SO how about you guys? What are your musical preferences when writing?