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Monthly Archives: September 2016

In The Beginning…

In The Beginning…

I wanted to know, what most of us wanted to know: What do all the best sellers have in common? What makes a winning first chapter? and Where do I start? These answers, however, are not found on google, nor any other search engine site. They are found by reading. (I know, I know, heard that one before!) But it is true.

Well, here, I have pieced together how the first chapter typically plays out. There is a trend amongst the best seller list, I will share with you, if you haven’t already figured it out.

Now, by no means, should this be used as a definite guide. Your true guide, which should be followed to the core, is your gut and instincts. They will guide you to wherever you need to be, and will tell you what is right and what is wrong, or what works, and what doesn’t. This is only meant to show you what I have noticed.

For example, here are two stories that use this format, that I have just recently read last week: Betrayal in Death by Nora Roberts Writing as J.D. Robb, and Colourless by Elena Salvatore.

This can be broken up, or rearranged however you see fit. 

Tip: Writing with simplicity reaches a more broad range of audience, and increases audience readability and retention. If people wanted to read technical, or complex, jargon they would have picked up a textbook, not a novel.

Let’s start with the first paragraph. The most important part when it comes to gaining the much needed attention you deserve as an artist. I recommend How To Be A Better Hooker and 6 Ways To Hook Your Reader to better understand what is expected when using hooks to reel in potential fans.

Also, check out: Stephen King On Writing and Dean Koontz’s 7 Best Seller Tips.

 

Keep in mind that each numbered point I make will closely represent 1-2 paragraphs each, or more if you desire.

  1. In this section/paragraph we will start with a hook, statement, or a vague description of what M.C.(Main Character) does, is going through, or irritated by, but either hopeless, or hopeful about changing her situation.
    • Should be succinct, yet vivid, that provokes imagery an can be questionable in a way.
    • Opening with time, dialogue, overuse of adjectives, or weather tends to be greatly ignored by all.
    • Take something old, then put a new spin on it.
    • Starting with a dramatic feel is a sure-fire way of being gripping and exciting.
    • Or, have it where there is a juxtaposition between normal life and the horrific.
    • Or, underline a fact then vaguely show the truth of a lie.
  2. In this section/paragraph we will begin with a subtle occupational goal, a desire, a belief, or some form of a trigger that provoked the above section/paragraph.
  3. In this section/paragraph we will begin with a small intro about what she is missing, what she might be doing, what is going on, where she is, and if she is alone or not. (Typically the M.C. will have a sidekick).
  4. In this section/paragraph this is when something new, out of the norm, or special occurs, or will occur that will eventually lead into the major turning point of her life. Sometimes this section/paragraph includes a reoccurring annoyance, date, or time and is typically intended for naming a goal/destination/change M.C. either wants or does not want to happen. This is when her humdrum life is thwarted into action before the real action.
  5. In this section/paragraph we will mention a person(new or known), small detail, idea, or object the M.C. either absolutely desires or despises about, or as the result of, #4. Sometimes the mention of another character here will typically result in that person being M.C.’s lover/foe/friend later in the story.
  6. In this section/paragraph we will show how despite how she appears/plays out M.C. is truly something(or someone) else, or feels/thinks/knows that she is something completely different than from what others may think/view/assume her as. Sometimes its not always obvious to M.C. but something deep inside her will echo her darkest truths she has yet to realize.
  7. In this section/paragraph we will describe the current area and what all is happening(like if people are all doing the same thing such as awaiting for a child to rip open presents, or everyone standing in a line for something), and what M.C. knows about this situation outsiders, otherwise, would know nothing about, and her working theory on what might happen next, or what will definitely occur after her destination is reached.
  8. In this section/paragraph we will evaluate/explain what brought her here in the first place, and/or what lead up to her being here. Was it a promise? Was it part of her plan? Or, did it happen all by chance?
  9. In this section/paragraph we will evaluate/explain her motive/happenings as to why she is headed to her #4’s planned destination/goal and if M.C. was expected to be in that spot(or hold up her end of the bargain) or if it was a place/goal she was never supposed to be in, or have in the first place.
  10. In this section/paragraph we will describe an oddity, person(if no person in particular, or important, was mentioned in #5 this person would be considered particularly important), in the M.C.’s viewpoint and her assumptions on it/the person, and what would happen if something were to occur right there, or not occur and why it wouldn’t happen.
  11. In this section/paragraph we will discuss how M.C. feels about this situation/place and triggering an extremely short descriptions/self-evaluation about herself.
  12. In this section/paragraph we will introduce the 2nd M.C. if there was no sidekick in the beginning. or 3rd M.C. if there was. And if the 2nd M.C. was presented in the beginning and found to be the antagonist, then this character will be “friend”. If the 2nd M.C. was found to be the “friend/family” then this character would be the “enemy” or “lover”. Then, filter through the M.C.’s  senses and generalized vague assumptions about the person and probably their scent and her physical reaction to said scent. (M.C. 2)
  13. In this section/paragraph we will describe in a short, concise, way about the 2nd/3rd M.C.’s eyes and mouth, and if that person’s scent triggers the M.C.’s hatred or desire towards them. A lot of times its desire, if he becomes “lover”, hatred if he becomes “enemy” or was a past “enemy” if they knew each other in the past and still holds resentment towards one another, or no mention of scent again if he becomes “friend”.
  14. In this section/paragraph we will describe/show the relationship between M.C. and #12’s M.C., if they even have a past together, or if placed under the same category by some force or compatible attributes.
  15. In this section/paragraph M.C. and #12’s M.C. exchange short pleasantries(or criticisms). Depends on if they can tolerate each other, or if they love each other, or absolutely hate each other even if they have never met before this.
  16. In this section/paragraph  we will describe, subtly, the hair/body/clothes about #12’s M.C. in a way that reflects your M.C.’s lifestyle or attitude towards this whole ideal. Then, subtly slip in a rhetorical “What If?” after a more direct assumption about this new character.
  17. In this section/paragraph M.C. and #12’s M.C. are exchanging words pertaining to the other side of #2. Such as, their hopes, dreams, or aspirations about their desirous outcome after it is all over and done with.
  18. In this section/paragraph we will write a short description of this new M.C., copying #10’s style in 1/3 the amount of words in a more refined, physical, concise, filter through your M.C..
  19. In this section/paragraph M.C. 1 and M.C. 2 will continue their conversation, this time pertaining to their opinions about #4 (whether its the destination, or current place they are in) and its potential outcome. Such as, their fears, dislikes, and short comings. And M.C. 1(or 2)will divulge something menial about what she/he hated/feared the most way before #4 came into play.
  20. In this section/paragraph this part is the end. The false hope, or “obvious” demise/outcome. This is where intended destinations go awry, or unintended destinations become even more unexpected than usual. Where good things go bad, and bad things get worse. This is the turning point where anything could happen. This is the commencement of #4.

 

If you liked this post, I strongly encourage you to hop on over and take a quick peek on my post of Notable Sites For Writers. These may help feed that hangry muse that pouts sullenly inside your striving soul.

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2 Comments

Posted by on September 29, 2016 in Start Your Story, Where To First?

 

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Character Driven VS. Plot Driven

Character Driven VS. Plot Driven

What is the difference between Character Driven Stories and Plot Driven Stories?

These two, while similar, are actually quite different from one another. The key thing to remember is the subtly in them both. Here I will explain them in a way that helps me grasp the difference, and I hope will help you, too.

What does Character Driven mean?

If the characters’ flaws, faults, dislikes, fears, and/or dreams pertain the plot, and significantly influences the story when they are used against the character, or not, at each plot/scene point, and if taking them out of the story risks your story falling flat and contrived, then it is CHARACTER DRIVEN.

It is knowing something about someone, or self, and choosing whether or not to act on that information, and how it will affect the rest of the story, if at all. In Character Driven stories, often, these instances will affect the story as a whole as it pertains to the character, and story. Without the character, there is no story. In these stories, characters are given free will.

Quote: “Everything happens for a reason.”

Character Driven Plots:

  1. The Quest
  2. The Transformation

Character Driven Stories Tend To Have, Or Be, The Following:

  1. Memorable Characters
  2. Fatalistic Plots
  3. Coincidental Happenings
  4. Theme
  5. Timeless
  6. Not Always A Happily Ever After
  7. Teaches (Not Preaches) Life Lessons
  8. Internal Conflict, Physical Stress
  9. Typically Written in First Person POV
  10. Literary Fiction

 

What does Plot Driven mean?

PLOT DRIVEN is not knowing, caring, or learning about something(or someone)new, and the character is forced to push through the motions/actions, or risk losing everything they hold dear, such as, life and love. This ultimatum creates a new fear for the character that they otherwise had no idea they had, or ever had to worry about before all of those occurrences.

However, a successful Plot and Character Driven story tends to incorporate character development, plus plot development, which resonates well with the audience, and creates memorable characters, stunning plot movement, and leaves the audience moved beyond their means. Typically, for an action packed thriller, no one cares about character development, but I believe that best suits for television, considering most people read to be moved and thrilled. Not just one or the other. Same for the tear jerked movies/shows. People do not care for the thrilling aspects as much as they do as the emotional calling card found on screen versus read in a book.

Quote: “Some things happen by chance, to show us an unexpected twist of fate.”

Plot Driven Plots:

  1. The Pursuit
  2. The Riddle

Plot Driven Stories Tend To Have, Or Be, The Following:

  1. High Concept Story-line
  2. Told in Third POV
  3. Predictable Ending
  4. External Conflict, Internal Stress
  5. Genre Fiction
  6. Formulaic Story
  7. Typically Free of Theme
  8. Effect after Effect
  9. Obstacle after Obstacle
  10. Statement of Happenings

 

 
 

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Notable Sites For Writers

Notable Sites For Writers

These following sites, I have collected over the past year, were found to be helpful, and beneficial to me. Take everything you read with a grain of salt, but these hit right on the nose. Also, check out these two bloggers: Jami Gold and Jane Friedman. They are amazing at what they do!

Where to Submit Your Story:

  • Authors Publish gives articles extremely helpful to many authors and this link takes you to the article ‘Top 25 Publishers for New Authors’.
  • Galley Cat is known for their extensive knowledge on what agents and publishers want. This link will direct you to the article I found most helpful ’23 Literary Agent Query Letters That Worked’.
  • The Write Life is known for helping authors create, connect, and sell their works. This link directs you to their article ’27 Free Writing Contests’.
  • Harper Collins is a well known publisher and currently seeks manuscript submissions from unsolicited authors.
  • Kindle Scout is fairly new, and not a popularity contest as many would have believe. This is an amazon affiliate. Here is what they said about the contest:

    Kindle Scout is reader-powered publishing for new, never-before-published books. It’s a place where readers help decide if a book gets published. Selected books will be published by Kindle Press and receive 5-year renewable terms, a $1,500 advance, 50% eBook royalty rate, easy rights reversions and featured Amazon marketing.

  • Strange Horizons I am not all too familiar with, but various members of writing groups I attend has mentioned them before to me. So, if you have any insight on them and how they operate, don’t be afraid to share your experiences.

 

Story Ideas:

 

Generators:

 

Developing Solid Concepts, Blurbs and Log-lines:

 

Character Creation:

 

Find Your Theme:

 

Screenwriting Sites:

 

Story Structure and Manuscript Format:

 

All Things Query Related:

 

Others:

 

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Short Story #3

THE LAST TIME
There was once a young couple, who met outside ‘Lil Bistro Café two years ago in college. During which time, they fell madly in love with each other’s quirks and faults. She, with his insatiable outlook on love and life; He, with her inability to walk and chew gum at the same time.

He has planned an evening she will never forget. An evening that will mark the beginning of the end of his life, and the start of theirs.

They meet at the café, from which they first met, and have a lovely, yet awkward, meal. She took small bites, calming the uneasiness building inside her, and he tapped his fingers on the white table cloth relentlessly.

Later that night, he walks her to her apartment and whistles a tune into the brisk air. A tiny brown pup came bolting up to them. It’s a chocolate lab, and wrapped around it’s tiny neck is a bright pink ribbon. He incorporated two of her favorite things: chocolate, and pink.

Attached to the end of the bow was a tiny velvet box. Her gasp said it all, relieving some tension pitted inside him. He opened it, and her blue eyes twinkled with the stars disbelieving this is actually happening.

“Will you marry, us?”

She looks at him and the puppy, then graciously accepts his request.

But, he added one stipulation to his proposal: That they remain married until the demise of the puppy when he is old, frail, and weak with sickness, but continue to remain in love to the end of time.

She knew this particular breed is lucky to live past ten years. She’s heard from people in the past they knew of labs lasting well up to fifteen years. Though, she didn’t care. She wanted him, to be his wife, and mother of two, future, kids; One boy. One girl.

She agreed, thinking by that time he would waive it and his memory would fail to recall such a demand.

Five years passed. Their first child was born. A little girl, named after her mother, Emily.

By the seventh year, a boy named Scotty Jr. was blessed upon them.

Ten years had finally passed, and no more children have been placed upon them. Instead, her husband became weak, frail to the touch. He seemed vacant, and appeared much older than his actual age. It has always made her worry, but when the worry persisted, he would let her know that nothing is wrong in a life filled with love.

Early that morning, the poor dog, that was once a puppy, passed away. Broke everyone’s heart, while shattering hers. Because of this, and his constant reminder for the past few weeks, she knows what to expect next.

Later that night, her hands shook with nervousness. He clasped them tight in his, and whispered into her ear, “Always love me.”

She smiled, choking back inevitable tears. She tried to ask if she should be expecting papers by the morning.

But, he doesn’t respond.

His head begins to weigh heavy on her shoulder. “Well?” She presses.

“I love you, Honey.”

Becoming furious with his dismissal, she presses harder for answers. How could she love someone, knowing they are just going to leave her? She wants to know, needs to know, what the heck is going on with her marriage. Uncertainty almost kills her. “Tell me if we are staying together, or getting divorced. Now, Scott.”

No response.

She nudges him, as he typically nods off asleep there almost every night.

His head plopped down on her pillow. Then, she sees it…

Her cries, pleas, and chest compressions prove unworthy of her saving his life. He’s not waking up, and shaking trembles of tears weave down her ivory skin.

The next morning, she is alarmed of the news.

A letter, addressed to her, from Scott, ten years ago, lands inside the mailbox.

 

Dear Emily,

I hope you are not upset. You are the love of my life, and I never dream of ever hurting you. I never intended on leaving you, nor did I intend on allowing you to put your life on hold for me.

I have cancer, and I am dying. Doctors claim I am lucky if I survive ten more years. But, I am also dying to give you the life you deserve. I know of your plans to have two kids, and one dog, then to be married to me. I want to give you everything you ever wish for. And hope that it is enough to numb the pain you might wind up feeling the moment I slip away from you.

I love you, forever, and always. I hope you will, too.

Sincerely,

Scott

 

She stared up into the, mourning, sky, and whispers through the wind, praying he hears her, “I love you, always,” and wishes she would have said it back to him, the night before.
By: Amey Coleman

 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 26, 2016 in Short Story #3

 

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