"In the game of life, nothing
is less important than the score at half time!"
Writing tip of the day - Writing the first chapter.
I have always recalled the opening sentence in 'The Day of The Jackal' by Frederick Forsyth:
"It is cold at six-forty in the morning of a March day in Paris, and seems even colder when a man is about to be executed by firing squad."
Why have I recalled it, because it is what I call a 'clanger opening' ... or 'hook'. It provides you with information: time, morning, Paris, firing squad and man. It also makes the reader ask questions. Who is being executed? Why is he being executed? Who is executing? Why in Paris? Why then? It also encourages the reader to read on and find out the answers to those questions. Many books, even those written by famous authors, do not have clanger openings, but I love them! They seduce readers.
Here are some opening lines I have used in my stories:
'Wirra Danson was worried.' - A Drover's Blanket
'Goose bumps rippled down his arms when he saw the old house - the very home where a successful career in music had begun two decades before.' - A Famous Guitar
'Last night I cried myself to sleep' - Pa Joe's Place
'Sayad Ali grabbed his precious diary, ready to make another important entry.' - Tyrrany to Detention.
Okay, you get the idea. However, here are a few points that might help you to write the first page or chapter of a novel:
1. Seduce the reader and make it interesting.
2. Be punchy.
3. Introduce your main character promptly. If you want your readers to love or despise him / her - just do it! Don't fluff around.
4. Set the scene for the reader and ask yourself, 'Is this a sad, funny or dramatic story?'
5. Action always grabs the reader. Don't be dull and boring.
6. Let your reader know why your main character is your main character. Cut to the chase.
7. I love conflict - resolution, conflict - resolution. Then, when you think your story needs to step up the pace, send in some more sharks.
8. Introduce your other characters in a timely way. Readers do not need a head full of names to remember in the first few pages. Let the story unfold easily.
9. Let the story flow. Do not confuse the reader. If a character takes a minor part in your story, give him / her an appropriate allocation of words / space.
10. Make your main character a winner; someone with a strong voice.
11. If you are writing a chapter, try to leave a page flipper at the end, so the reader will want to continue reading to find out what happens next.
12. Concentrate, but enjoy your work. The world has billions of books so make yours one that a reader wants to read.
Don't be shy ... head to the top of the page and leave a comment, or send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for listening.
I'm Clancy Tucker.