Do Your Readers Make It Past Chapter One?

Chapter One.

Probably the most rewritten chapter of any book I put together. Why do I stress so much about it? Well, it’s a make or break chapter. In those first few pages, I can either win my readers over or lose them forever. So how do we make sure our readers make it past chapter one?

Here are some of the things I’ve learned so far: Continue reading “Do Your Readers Make It Past Chapter One?”


It is important to understand that different people have different brains. Genius, I know. But this point was driven home to me recently. I pay a lot of attention to what is going on in my head and the heads of those around me. I am the first to spot a hawk or a lizard. I can sense a motorcycle before I can hear it. But I am largely oblivious to many things.

To wit, my buddy Josh lives down the hall from us. I watched his dog over the weekend. My wife went over once and mentioned all the cute pictures on the walls, the giant fish tanks in the kitchen, and the fact that his kitchen tile is our bathroom tile. I had never noticed any of these things.

Continue reading “Looking”

Characters – Who Are They Really? Melissa Pearl

Author Melissa PearlI am in the throes of planning my next novel and having so much fun with it. I love the planning stage. Who am I kidding? I love every stage!! But there is something very cool about starting with a blank slate and filling in all the spaces.

I have been working on character profiling this week and as I delve deeper into who these characters really are, my story is getting shaped and formed into something much stronger than my original idea. Scenes are being added and changed as I discover what these characters are like beneath the surface.

Robert McKee, author of STORY: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting says the best characters are the ones who are contradictory in nature. I agree. It is so much more interesting writing about a person who comes across as a golden boy, but when push comes to shove, turns out to be a total weakling… or a woman who is all prickles and snark, but in reality is just a scared little kid, afraid to face the failings of her past. Continue reading “Characters – Who Are They Really? Melissa Pearl”

Character Description – Psychological

Everyone should have one.

On Tuesday, we looked at physical character description. But there is a much more important aspect to character development…our weird, quirky brains and the weird, quirky things they make us do. Now, I admit, I am biased. My fiction is very character-based, and I think depth of character is more important than almost anything. That’s me. You may disagree. That is your right. I must warn you, however, that disagreeing with me will only start you down the path toward a lifetime bereft of joy and full of despair. Because I will find you. Trust me on that.

Now, when you are making a character, you want them to seem real. You also want them to stand out from the other characters. I’ve read a lot of books where the author feels it necessary to outline every single stupid thing a character thinks. Or maybe the author goes too far into trying to tell you what kind of person the character is. But it doesn’t have to be hard. In fact it is quite easy. Continue reading “Character Description – Psychological”