For writers, what is the hardest part of a novel? Maybe it’s page 1 and page 400–and many big chunks in between. Some books go like that.
But today I’m more interested in what’s the most important part of a novel. Despite how crucial a good ending is, and how challenging the middle is, I think the beginning is the critical place. At least the beginning in terms of the musing you do before you write.
For me, first come the big-picture questions.
Big, sloppy questions.
1. What genre? Some of the aspiring writers I meet are surprisingly conflicted about what type of story to write. My only advice is to read in likely genres. Read a lot. Learn what stories you adore. You’ll be spending many years with them.
In my recent two books forthcoming from Saga, the answer to the genre question was Fantasy.
2. What kind of fantasy? Paranormal espionage. So many kinds of fantasy. Just read the nominees for the World Fantasy Award, and you’ll see the amazing variety of the literature. Read More…
It’s a perverted fact of the universe that writers are sometimes stumped about what to write. Give them a snappy first line in a timed writing exercise, and they jump in, keyboard clicking furiously, and then wow you with what they read out loud.
But for an original story? Um. A novel for crying out loud? Um, indeed.
Not that I’m talking about myself, you understand. Of course not.
But we shall fret no more, because there are three–count ’em, three–chances to shake loose your story ideas in a small, brilliant conference this weekend. And if there’s no way you can pack up and get to Wenatchee, I’ll close this post with an idea-generating strategy of my own. Read More…
What do Robert Dugoni, Agent Rachel Letofsky, and memoirist Bonnie J. Rough all have in common? A: They’ll all be in Wenatchee WA for Write on the River in 5 weeks!
Join us on the sunny side of Washington State for a day-and-a-half conference on the beautiful campus of Wenatchee Valley College. The Write on the River Conference annually attracts approximately 120 writers to learn from the experts, including New York Times best-selling authors like Robert Dugoni and Rebecca Zanetti. Read More…
Scenes are the building blocks of the long story.
One simple step can save your next scene.
Even with the loosest of plot outlines, authors usually have an idea of the next thing that can happen. But there are always options. Refer to the action or insight in a narrative bridge? Bring it on stage by itself? Tuck the information bit by bit into several scenes?
“Forward the plot” is the usual scene advice. But even following that criteria it’s easy to write tepid, low-interest scenes. So how do we sort out the on-target and meaningful next sequence?
Let your intuition help
Here’s a quick way to help you open the right door into the next scene: Give it a title.
It doesn’t need to be catchy or meaningful to anyone else. But to you, it reflects the dramatic essence of this sequence. Examples from my work in progress:
Blood on the silver screen Read More…
You know you want to be on my newsletter mailing list (4-5 times/year) for the giveaways and insider information. Last time, I offered a drawing for cool packets of Walter Day Science Fiction Trading cards. Also, remember that if you sign up for my newsletter I’ll send you a free short story.
And the trading card winners are (drumroll here):
Thomas Morrow and bn100. Congrats to both! I’ll be in touch today to ask for addresses.
My thanks to all who entered!