Creating a Dynamite Four-Sentence Opening Paragraph

opening scene, window with curtains, breeze blowing inI began my writing career in drama, and when I start a new chapter of a novel, the first thing that comes to mind is the dialogue. Bad idea. When you come into the middle of a conversation, you always feel like you’re missing something, and I suspect my readers react the same way. So I went looking for a metaphor that would help me write an effective opening paragraph for every chapter. And to do that, I had to figure out what readers want at the beginning of a chapter.

And then I had a thought; starting a chapter is like entering a new room we have never been in before. What do readers want to know about that unknown room? Continue reading “Creating a Dynamite Four-Sentence Opening Paragraph”

Writer Wants Versus Reader Needs

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I want to know more!

We writers are very sneaky people. We lie to our readers constantly, luring them into imaginary situations and manipulating their emotions shamelessly under the pretense that we are entertaining them. And all the while, what we really want to do is preach to the reader about how the world works and how to make it go better. The difference between a good writer and a bad writer is that the good writer doesn’t get caught. Good writers make readers need what we want to tell them. Less experienced writers start their novels only thinking about what the reader needs to know in order to understand. Continue reading “Writer Wants Versus Reader Needs”

How to Develop Your “Author’s Voice” – and How Not to

authors tools wrenchIt is very easy to have your own voice. Basically your voice is anything in your writing style that makes you different from the competition. Some of these qualities are positive, but some are negative. Unfortunately, the negative ones are the easiest, because they tend to look like mistakes. Be careful not to fall into their snare. Continue reading “How to Develop Your “Author’s Voice” – and How Not to”

Writing Tip: Another Set of Words to Trim

HAIRCUT (002) indies unlimited writingI wrote an article here a couple of years ago suggesting ways to tidy up shaggy writing. It’s been a while, and perhaps it’s time for another trim.

Everyone has a list of words and phrases you should “never use.” Many of these are not specific taboos. They are just loose writing that could be tightened if you recognize the symptoms and want to try harder.

Here are a few words and phrases you might consider adding to your private list. Note that I have found all of these at one time or another in a “real” book, and often while I’m polishing my own work. Continue reading “Writing Tip: Another Set of Words to Trim”