The day after a book release we sit and count the comments and bite our nails hoping this experiment works. It’s not about the money (Though who wouldn’t be excited about that?) It’s about the approval.
Writing is like giving someone a gift. You hope it’s a good choice. That they like it. That they can use it. That it’s exactly what they need at that particular moment.
I read Nora Roberts Whiskey Creek recently and gave out a sigh on the first page remembering why I enjoy reading her writing so much. It felt like coming home.
That’s why I enjoy writing. I want to give someone that experience of melting into my book. Escape from the moment.
I next turned to JR Ward’s The Chosen. Again, different author, different style, different genre…still that wonderful moment of escape. Relaxation. My drug of choice is reading.
This weekend, try something I wrote just for you. You can find something to take you away on my Amazon Author page.
I’ve been noticeably absent from my blog and the truth is I missed posting here. This is where my mind spills random thoughts I have had over night. Sorry, sometimes they’re worthwhile and sometimes not. This week I hope I can provide you with something useful. Everyone either has a job, a child, a sport, or an interest they can write about. I thank the brilliant people who share how to’s on YouTube. We look up everything there. I could probably do open heart surgery following a heart surgeon video.
SO I’m thinking about adding my how to #selfedit lessons to YouTube. SO now there’s a whole new learning curve for me and another social media nut to crack. I write fiction and I love doing it. But if I spend all my down time researching, it will reduce my productivity.
Last weekend I attended a social media workshop I found extremely helpful. I think this is the second time I’ve gone to this one and just one of many Each time I learn something new. Each time I discover how many things have changed since the last time I attended a class on the subject. And within a few days I practice what I’m comfortable with and avoid branching out. I can tweak what I know without the hours of R&D I’ll need for a new venture.
I have a very old Twitter account. This week I had a better idea of what and why I was doing some things. I have an old Pinterest account that I like because I saved all the pretty pictures, and occasionally check out hot guys for inspiration. I am Eliza March and I like hot men. There you know my weak spot. I do not know squat about how Pinterest can be used for promotional purposes. I get the idea at first…but when I try to visualize what to do…poof…nadda.
Facebook is a bain on my peace of mind, sanity, and my ability to control my opinions… and I believe on most of their users too. I’ve been on it so long…I get it. Then I don’t. Then I do, then I don’t. If you’re anything like me, you don’t like being played. I could give you an arm’s length list of companies I deal with daily that are playing with my mind and my life. How do you trust any corporation in this day and time? I’m beginning to suffer from borderline #conspiracy theorist issues. Should I accept my $29.00 (not a real figure) royalty check and keep my mouth shut? I want more. I’m tired of being invisible, suffocated beneath other books, and authors buying reviews, promoters with money, algorithms and bots.
How can I help you? Apparently, those of us who band to together, and share information with each other, and help each other, and inspire each other can pull ourselves up the ladder and drag a few others with us. The stronger you are the more you should pull up with you. Never forget that someone helped you up too. We need each other more than you can ever imagine until that day come when you put your hand up and there’s no one there to rescue you.
Detail has a purpose. It should provide something to the story. It should do something to the reader. The picture I used for my page has that romantic couple in a sexy pose. But in describing it, can you as an writer describe the scene accurately to draw a reader response? It makes me think of a sandy beach (yet it’s a wooden floor, reminiscent of Dirty Dancing) perhaps because of the way the light strikes the two characters. I think heat.
I remember the way the sun feels against my skin as it soaks in, the way it also heats me from the inside without the need for a kiss. Has he just finished kissing her or is he about to kiss her? The sensations before and after are different, and depending on expectation and circumstance, so are the emotions and response. In describing this moment, an author will know which words to choose to evoke the exact reaction intended from the reader.
Can you imagine the moment leading up to this point? Can you begin to imagine what comes next? Everything depends on story. Characters react to story. Having a plot in mind puts the characters in the story, then knowing your characters well determines how they will react. They have options if they’re three dimensional characters, so they may surprise you, and also the reader, with their reaction. How will he touch her? Where? What does he want? What keeps him from taking what he wants? Maybe he will. maybe he won’t. Details like background noises may define the moment. Maybe an interruption sends them into hiding…everything depends on what’s in the author’s head…and where the story has been as well as where the plot is going.
Think about this when you add detail. What he’s wearing or not wearing can set a scene for what comes next. With both of them scantily clad, sexual tension can elevate quickly, especially if they are forced into close proximity. Does he hear her breathing heavily? Does she notice perspiration form on his forehead? “Showing” these details makes “telling” the reader the obvious unnecessary, but it does put the reader in the scene and into the story.
Remember the books that frightened you? I had to take breaks while reading The Shining by Stephen King, I could “not” breathe. Normally, writers give the readers time to breathe between scary scenes. Not King.
Remember the books that turned you on? The one that comes to mind for me wasn’t an erotic book; it was a suspense…All the Queen’s Men by Linda Howard. I was on a plane and deep into the dangerous scene of the book, when the sensual tension began to build. OMG danger and suspense and sex! I was seated in an aisle seat in business class surrounded by men. Lost in the story, I must have been holding my breath because when I finally exhaled, the man across the aisle turned around, winked, and asked, “That good huh?” I flushed to the roots of my hair. But “yes” it was that good, and I immediately bought one of those paperback book covers to hide my choice of titles in the future. (Although that cover had had nothing on it but chess pieces, I wasn’t ready to get teased over something like Fabio’s chest. It’s nothing to laugh at!) Getting lost in the details is a reader’s pleasure and the author’s job. Authors must draw the picture, set the scene, create the mood, string the reader out until they want to scream in pleasure or fear, or cry or laugh, or clap and cheer. Emotion is key. If an author can make you feel something…the job is done. Details create sensations that develop the emotions. Make certain the details you choose move the story forward. Set the stage for the scene.
The original post was awhile back but it resonates today with man’s inability to connect with nature.
JUNE 17, 2007
Although I don’t know why, the place wasn’t what I was expecting. When I first glimpsed it as we drove over the rise, I felt a moment’s disappointment. It stood starkly gray out in a farmer’s sunny field. I shouldn’t have been surprised at the way it didn’t impress. What was I looking for? Even I don’t know what I anticipated that day —
Druids pacing? Lightning flashing? Magick?
DECIDING it was a normal place, after all — nothing spectacular beyond its impressive size, I recognized it as just another tourist trap. Like the rest, there were mugs, books, miscellaneous souvenirs and food for sale. Digging in with all the others, I bought a mug and a sandwich. Then I picked up the electronic hand piece and listened to the taped program as I walked the circular path around Stonehenge. I took pictures with my digital camera, listened carefully to the narrative.
THEN something happened. I became engrossed with the ancient history. The information was interesting and informative, but something else happened–this place was far from ordinary. The monolithe was deceptive standing innocently out there in the unusual bright English day. The Stones stood proudly alone, warming in the sun, massive in an open field with tourists munching sandwiches and cameras all a-flutter. But there was something more.
IT was old, it was ancient, it was powerful. It spoke to me. It was more than the story on tape, more than large stones hiding their secret mystery of how they appeared in the stoneless region. Their mystical force engulfed me as I walked the circle, listening, looking, searching, learning. I was drawn back to a long-gone time when wizards were all-powerful and Mother Earth ruled. In that time, Man took care with Nature, respected and cajoled it. But when Man left the pagan temples to tumble and halted the blood sacrifices of old to sacrifice Mother Earth to our gluttonous needs, things changed. Now Man plunders Her and lays waste to Her bounty.
STANDING outside the aged stones, I felt the call to battle.
GLOBAL Warming is a unique and imminent possibility. Is it an eventual reality? Will the dark salty waves of the North Atlantic soon lap over the lowly terrain where Druids stood? Will the great Stonehenge be nothing more than a pile of rocks standing against the pounding waves of the North Sea?
WHEN I returned home I printed my photos and fixed tea in my souvenir mug. The images all had blue ghosts surrounding the stone where the sacrifices were believed to have taken place. I reached for the mug and it shifted toward my hand.
That wasn’t the first or
the last time the ghosts appear in appropriate places in my pictures. In Italy, they appeared on the pictures I took of the portraits of St. George (who looks surprising like like my youngest son). So no matter what you believe a little meditation in ancient places can’t help but to ground you into good thoughts and good deeds. Have a wonderful weekend.
I’ve done both with a number of books, and though I thought I preferred the independence of self-publishing, and still do at times, I am leaning toward mixing it up again. I like the support of a small press and the comradery of having other authors in the stable who are willing to cross promote and bolster me up when I need advice. writing is a solitary undertaking, but promoting and dealing with the business of writing doesn’t have to be.
A publisher with a good track record, who is a good fit for you, can be your best asset. My needs were much different years ago when I started than they are now. Yet both publishers I began with each serves a different purpose for my writing needs now, and both are not only still in business, but successful and well thought of in the industry. That’s saying something in these times. I also recently published with a third small press and am excited to announce I’m thoroughly pleased with the team I worked with. Being part of another supportive group, specializing in the genre I write, has been a pleasure.
The trick is finding the right fit. I like a quick turn around on correspondence and edits. I like easy access to the team I work with. I like flexibility and custom service. If I need more than two rounds of edits…let’s do it! I want input on my cover and the marketing plan. I want to be able to participate. Some companies don’t work that way. Some authors don’t have any interest in working that way. It’s all about finding what works for you and your career.
My self-publishing experience has afforded me the flexibility to adjust with the market. In an industry of change and shifting markets, we need to adjust quickly and research to be prepared for the next wave. I like testing the market to see what works. In the process, I’ve found thinking ahead of the curve is a crap-shoot. As fast as we adjust things shift. So writing to please yourself is the best answer because…you can’t please everyone.
The downside to self-publishing is the number of hats I have to wear unless I want to hire someone to do them. Then there’s the cost. Once again, the loss of a certain amount of control. Waiting for someone else to do the work. Hoping they have the same vision…
And finally, the time-consuming time away from writing.
I’m considering a co-op of stable writers who want to form a group. Not only can we write together, we can write apart and still be there for each other. It’s been done before and may be my answer.
When I can’t depend on SMASHWORDS’ meatgrinder to accept my old formats…I need another set of eyes and a ton of suggestions. Thank goodness for GOOGLE search.
No. I mean a real tip. You know…money? I’m thinking about all the free books authors give away and call it advertising expense. Sometimes I get a really good book and think, perhaps I should give the author a tip. I could buy the next book, but that isn’t really expressing the value of the book I just read. So I rate it five stars and write gushing reviews. Still I feel something is missing. I see SMASHWORDS has an option under pricing for the reader to choose their own price. Anyone tried that? Reader? Author? I’m curious. Given the choice, how many or which books would you pay for? How about an option to TIP the author for an excellent read?
Instead of T-I-P (TO INSURE PROMPTNESS) satisfied readers could give extra TO INSURE PLEASURE? or PERFECTION? Or we could just insert a DONATION button. I’ve seen them on blogs (idea).
What about the ones when we can’t get past the first chapter? I’m all for emojis but I always seem to feel an emotion they haven’t developed a face for. A middle finger could work well for so much, but some would be offended. Nope. Not a good idea. Rudeness is available everywhere lately. If you can’t say something nice…don’t SAY anything, don’t TIP. don’t DONATE or leave a REVIEW. “NO” review speaks volumes. “BAD” reviews make you sound like a TROLL. I’m voting for tipping. If it’s a FIVE + STAR book, the only thing left is a TIP. For me? I’m okay if you buy my other books — I won’t be offended.
I started this thought, tongue in cheek, but it’s beginning to sound good. Where is that emoji for the face I’m making right now? Eh?
Oh and in case you haven’t signed up for my NEWSLETTER yet…now would be a good time. NO SPAMMING. In fact, unless I have something to offer you like a FREE book or a BIG DISCOUNT or a chance to WIN something … or tell you a SECRET no one knows about yet … I won’t bother you. I will give you my email address so you can contact me back with suggestions. Or just leave them here. I get them.
The link to sign up below will ask you what genres you prefer.
Sometimes it’s hard to decide. I think you can pick them all.
High Concept question. You ask, “What’s the book about?” A Fae Myth? The Gemini: a species born when twin fae royalty fell in love with twin druids.
Another answer: A mashup of Criminal Minds meets Supernatural somewhere in one of the lands in Lord of the Rings, then sprinkle a little True Blood and Underworld into the cauldron of blood and see what you get. Are you ready for a modern day Indiana Jones meets an Irish Sookie Stackhouse?
There are light fae trying to keep the world from going dark, while daemons from the Underworld posing as ancient serial killers are set on murdering supernatural psychics posing as profilers who work for the government. Breathe… Oh yes, there are soul mates and destined love to deal with too. Unfortunately, soulmates meant to save the world can’t deny their gifts or be at odds with each other. Duh! Can’t we all just get along? Work together? save the world?
Conflict goes there or there wouldn’t be a story.
Goal: Everyone wants to control the elements of Earth.
Motivation: To prevent the world from being destroyed…or in the case of the antagonists: to destroy the world.
The Gemini are going to have to step up their game. Trouble is, they don’t know the rules or that they were involved. Playing catch up from behind is Hell. Try reading this so you’ll be ready for the series.
Morgan and Brianna, two sixteen year-old Irish girls, stumble upon a magical book hidden within the standing stones. Believing local mythology is just an interesting tale about immortal killers, vengeful gods, and age-old battles, they take the stories lightly…until the book mentions their ancestors and reveals the girls may be destined to fulfill an ancient prophecy.
Discovering a deadly rift once split the fae and mortal realms as the result of a forbidden love between the fae and druids, the girls dedicate themselves to the book. A covenant with the gods had been broken, and the responsibility of restoring the worlds fell to the Gemini, descendants of the illicit lovers. These chosen caretakers of the elemental stones were challenged to protect the elements from the dark mystics. With a vow to destroy all the chosen, evil forces used black magic to release the daemon from the Underworld, and the Gemini went into hiding while the battles to find them raged on through the ages.
Years later, psychics and profilers all over the world are being targeted for death. A historic pattern becomes obvious to a former FBI agent and an Irish profiler when they are assigned to join forces. As they uncover more and more details about who or, more precisely, what is targeting the victims and why, even more improbable evidence surfaces to expose their linked pasts.
Fae mythology isn’t in the FBI training manual, but when a killer disappears into a solid stone wall, it’s time for Graeme to re-evaluate reality. Recently, the pragmatic FBI instructor and history buff has a hard time dealing with the woman’s thoughts seeping into his mind. Psychic or not, none of this can be real. He’s convinced she’s the same girl who’s been in his dreams since childhood, but he doesn’t dare admit it.
Morgan only felt whole when Graeme joined her in her dreams. There is no doubt he’s her old imaginary playmate. But what does it mean now that his thoughts are breaking through when she’s awake? Even if he refuses to accept their connection, his presence in her mind is a comfort…until their shared dreams turn into nightmares.
Do you need quiet to write? Do you have a playlist you listen to while writing? Do you have a special place? Is it isolated or in the thick of things? Is the TV blasting distracting news or great dialogue? Action or love scenes? What works best for you? I bet you have multiple answers depending on the scene and what stage you’re at in the book.
Chaos. In the midst of a family of seven, I’ve figured out how to write a first draft. Concepts and ideas fill my creative cup while I’m talking to my kids or friends, making dinner or folding clothes. The story is in my head at all times ready for a new twist or the next conflict.
I can even edit the first draft in chaos. But when it comes to making certain the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed, I need solitude. Complete and utter focus. Grammar and punctuation checks are not what I’m talking about. What I need uninterrupted time to final edit for are these things…the essentials I hope to one day master in my first draft:
are my characters behaving in character?
do they have a goal, motivation, and conflict?
am I staying in point of view?
is the opening grabbing the reader?
is the pace working?
am I including hooks to the next scene?
is there motivation, conflict, and a goal in each scene?
is each sentence structured clearly?
am I overusing adjectives, adverbs, names, dialogue tags, phrases,
am I using redundancies–repeating words, sentence structure, or ideas unnecessarily?
Each of us has our own way or working through the writing process. We also have writing issues we repeat in each book. I check for those problems first, noting there are fewer in the second draft than there used to be. The more you write, the more cognizant you’ll become of your style, your voice. The pace of the story and the style eventually will become embedded in your work. The more you write, the sooner it will happen. Sooner or later, you’ll find your place to write, with or without chaos, with or without a playlist, with or without silence. What you’ll find is a way to focus on what the story needs instead of what you need. Numbers one through ten will fall into place like a marching band, marching in formation while they make music and designs. You’ll have your unique voice, your work will have a unique style that defines it, you’ll have a process of creating your work in a way that works for you.
I’ve tried several approaches. Some work with non-fiction, some with fiction. Some work with short stories but not with longer books. Some work with individual novels but not with series or serialized books. Different strokes for different folks pertains to bodies of work as well as temperaments. My memory isn’t what it was. I make notes now. Thank goodness for my iPhone. I keep it with me always…well, not in the shower…but it’s in the room–TMI?).
I dictate and write myself notes or just write down a word or phrase to jar my memory later when I have a chance to mull it over. We each have our own creative needs and style of getting from A to Z. Figure out your method and don’t be discouraged if you have to make tweaks or adjustments as you grow. I’m going to bare my soul. The second few edited paragraph segments from my first book, Hot Highland Fling, looked like this.
* * *
“Ah, Scotland,” Ailsa sighed into her cell phone. “The untamed highlands, the rugged moors, the burly men, and their kilts!” The cell phone coverage was good as she checked in with her senior editor. None of that, Can you hear me now? stuff, going on up here.
“Katie, why do you live in London with those conservative people when you could be here?”
“I know the only reason you took this assignment was to check out the native men. Besides, the magazine has a silly requirement that their senior editor reside near the publishing house, and if you must know, I prefer civilization to the wilds.”
* * *
I have to thank my first editor, Scarlet Senior Editor, Diana Carlile.at the Wild Rose Press for not only taking a chance on a newbie, but also for being an awesome editor. If I could I’d be rewording and editing it again. You have to know when enough is enough. (Most of us never learn that.)
The first red blob is cutting out a dialogue tag. Now there is narrative action instead of he said-she said.
The next change is a clarification of the first part of the sentence without going into too much unnecessary detail.
The next is a format situation. The editor clarified the idea with italics and punctuation.
Then I changed a word from one that I didn’t think fit as well.
The final edit in this section did a few things. This is the opening of the book. The heroine said several things that hint about the genre. The title of course is pretty suggestive. But Ailsa sighs. Then she sets the mood with her dialogue. “The untamed highlands, the rugged moors, the burly men, and their kilts!” A little excitement, a romantic lilt, sexy and fun. This sentence establishes a promise to the reader. You also get that sarcastic humor reinforced with her internal thought about the cell phone coverage. Can you hear me now? stuff…
We find out that Ailsa is questioning conservative reasoning. What’s she up to?
Ailsa’s editor confirms her motives. “I know the only reason you took this assignment was to check out the native men.” Ah! Ailsa has an ulterior motive. Do we want to read about it? Do we like her enough to be curious? We hardly know her at all. Is the subject something we’re interested in?
The book is short on plot–it’s very short anyway. But it does contain many sex scenes because this is a woman’s journey of sexual discovery, an awakening of sorts, and she has very little time to invest. Not everyone will be interested in a book of this length or genre, but no matter, there should be purpose to every words you choose to put on the page. I hope this helps you move from chaos to peace of mind.
Free lance writer, Ailsa Jackson is finished dating executives. She’s looking for hot sexual fantasies with a man who fits her needs… “All muscle, stamina and no commitment.” The assignment in the UK sounds perfect when she’s assigned to interview an American CEO who recently inherited lands and a title in Scotland.
She tosses her inhibitions aside for the first Highlander she encounters–prepared to research all the myths about brawny Highlanders and answer the age old, burning question: What does a Scotsman wear beneath his kilt?
Colin Fitzgerald knows it’s wrong to deceive Ailsa, but he can’t risk her discovering his true identity before he seduces her. Unfortunately, he is everything Ailsa hates. Yet if he can become the lover she adores, perhaps he can convince her they’re perfect for each other.
He has one night to prove he’s no stuffed shirt and three weeks to become everything she desires in a lusty lover. His adventurous lass is imaginative and willing. But can lust turn to love so quickly? And will they be ready for more than a Hot Highland Fling when their time together draws to an end?
MAXIMUM IMPACT – Writing Short: Say More With Less: Condense the Essence & Leave ’em SatisfiedKindle Edition
Her aura has never reacted to any man this way.
After the female dire wolf under her protection goes missing, Laurel Finnegan’s new assignment, vetting the brother, proves even more challenging. He’s everything Laurel isn’t. And everything she wants. Before the full moon rises, she’ll have to test their mutual attraction, find his sister, and keep him away from the other females who will stop at nothing to be the dire wolf’s mate.
He refuses to accept the significance of their mingled auras.
Lucas MacDugal’s family is the last of the purebred dire wolves, and times have changed. So when his sister fought tradition and fled Scotland for Sarasota, he agreed. Now, he has to deal with her female security guard. Laurel has extraordinary elemental assets and is instrumental in deciphering evidence, but she’s also the first female to destroy his self-control. He has until the full moon rises to figure out why. After that, his unusual attraction to Laurel may prove deadly for her.
All the evidence indicates Grace set herself up.
Laurel’s worst fears prove true. Rogues from the south have infiltrated the outlying pack land. When she discovers Grace’s location and telecommunications fail, she decides to rely on the elemental connection she formed with Lucas.
He’s in denial…
But there’s no denying how much she hungers for him, and his lust rises with the waning moon. The innocent female haunts his thoughts night and day. He has to respond. Too many lives are at stake for him to ignore the appeal he can’t resist.
The full moon calls his wolf to action.
Lucas will give up everything to claim Laurel as his, but he won’t risk her life. The fear of losing her drives him to discover the mystery surrounding their irresistible connection.
“Lucas is also their pack enforcer, so you will need protection,” Rand spoke up then turned to Derek. “What do you think?”
“According to everything I’ve got on him, he’s a lone wolf, aggressive, the second son, yet with alpha tendencies. Above all, he’s honorable. He’s no pup. So I’m not concerned about him getting out of control.”
Derek still appeared uncomfortable then looked at Laurel and shook his head. “If he’s as powerful and large as I’ve heard, we need to warn off our females. They should stay away from him at the time of the next full moon.”
“But a few of the females are already looking outside the pack for new blood,” Laurel said.
“If he sets his sights on one he likes, she probably wouldn’t survive a mating. His mother was purebred and barely lived through the births.” Rand kept his attention on Ty while he grew increasingly restless.
“Well, it’s not always about breeding.” Laurel gave a nervous chuckle. “If you want to take his temperature, for some reason I’m still your best chance to vet him. So far, none of you boys have tickled my fancy. And precisely, as a reminder, like Grace, I ‘don’t need no stinkin’ brothers’ to protect me either.”
The three men didn’t exactly growl, but Laurel was certain she heard the low rumbles begin.
Ty shook his head then pointed a finger at her. “Everybody thinks they’re immune, that they’re in control, until it hits them. Then, suddenly, you’re walking around with stars in your eyes and can’t put two coherent sentences together, let alone fight the urges within you.”
“Listen to Mr. Romance!” Laurel giggled.
“Don’t laugh, missy.” Derek gestured to Ty. “Look at him. Neither of them, Grace or Ty, wanted to be involved, and he couldn’t stay away from her, even knowing what she is. Her disappearance has made him as crazy as if they’d been—”
The room went dead quiet, the word mated hanging in the air. Derek turned in his chair, and his eyes flashed a warning.
Laurel’s gaze swung to Ty. “You didn’t…did you?”
I can’t tell you how often I started writing a book only to realize the story really began in the second or third chapter. When I critiqued writers’ manuscripts the same thing happened. If I told one author the book started in the wrong place I told fifty. It’s common to start the story too soon. The process of warming up to your book, getting to know your characters, getting comfortable with all the backstory shouldn’t actually end up in the first chapter. You should know all this before you sit down to write…whether you write it down or mull it around in your head.
So how do you decide on a starting point? Many writing coaches advise authors to begin the story as close to the first conflict as possible. What does that mean?
Put your main character in his/her ordinary world before slamming them into the story conflict. The reader wants to see them react to life as they’ve known it before it’s about to change. And the character could be inanimate like the sea. The sea is calm before it turns stormy. The sky is stormy before it clears. The hero is happy before the day goes to sh*t. You get the picture.
During this short introduction to the main character and the story, we should learn something about her. She could be leaving the house for work, then the cat sneaks out because the door doesn’t close all the way. She’ll have to call her new sexy neighbor again because she’s running late. Worry. He’s going to think she’s a flake or is interested in him. Well she is…both. The rain hasn’t stopped for two weeks and caused the wood to swell. He’s pretty handy around his house. Hmmm. She drops the papers she’s holding. The red ink runs on the pages from the raindrops. She curses the rain, but doesn’t actually use profanity. She says to herself–Whatever…most of the kids can’t read yet anyway.
This is just a general rundown. So what do we learn about her in that brief introduction? She teaches youngsters. Has a sexy new neighbor. Is a little flustered. Has a cat she cares about. Seems nice but realistic. This isn’t the first time the cat has escaped. It’s raining and she is late for work. Hopefully the reader imagined more, too.
Do we want to know more about her? Sure. Are we worried about her? Yes? No? Not yet?
Next. What could happen to hook you so you would want to read more?
From this opening I think the writer has several options to introduce the transition from ordinary world to something happens depending on the genre.
Another woman could leave the neighbor’s house and kiss him good-bye.
Backing out of the driveway, a truck could swerve out of control and hit the heroine’s car.
An alien spacecraft could land in her front yard.
A ghost could pop into her front seat.
Her fangs could descend in jealousy.
Her abusive ex-boyfriend could call.
These are a few options.
But what we decide determines the promise of the book. Here is where the reader figures out the genre, decides whether or not this book might be for them. Your voice (the unique style of your writing) and person, tense, pov, as well as word choices define the book at this point.
In a movie or book, the promise is defined in the first ten percent. Included in the first ten percent will be the locale, the identity of the main cast of characters, the style, the genre, the main characters’ goals and motivations, and ideally, the main conflict. Other conflicts may play a part in getting to the resolution of the goal, but the main conflict should be at least hinted at in the opening ten percent.
Depending on the length of your story, the first chapter may not include all the characters etc. But in the first 200-500 words of any book, the writer must hook the reader. Most readers won’t skim more than a few pages to get into a book. They may skim after they’re curious about what’s going to happen. And different hooks work for different genres. Read some opening scenes from books in your genre and see how best-selling authors do it. I prefer reading examples from their early work, before they made a name for themselves. Those books defined them to their reading audience.
And I know it’s hard, but tighten that opening until it squeaks. Pacing is the rate that the reader is pulled into and through your story. Genre will influence your word choices, but so will pacing. Horror pacing and word choices will be somewhat different from romance, but may be similar to suspense. Give the reader a breather every now and then especially after an exceptionally exhausting scene. The ones when you try to get the reader’s pulse rate going. That’s great writing, but you don’t want to kill your favorite readers.
Please leave me a comment if you found this helpful and if you have something to add, your comments are welcome. Thank you.