How to write a book

Avoid sagging middles and lackluster endings

How You Can Have a Riveting Book Without Sagging Middles and Lackluster Endings

The following is an excerpt from my book, The Plot Thickens: 21 Ways to Plot Your Novel. A link to buy can be found here. The second chapter addresses how to avoid sagging middles and lackluster endings.

The novel’s middle is vital in holding your reader’s attention.

How to avoid sagging middles and lackluster endings

It’s where the protagonist will encounter the bulk of his trials and tribulations, where her strength will be tested and flaws exposed. It’s where you torture your darlings and force them through life-changing events. It sets up the major crisis at the end of the book and paves the way for a satisfying conclusion.

The middle is also where the writer is most likely to give up. After the first few chapters, he realizes the big bite he’s bitten off. How can he hold the tension? How can he up the stakes and plunge the antagonist into deeper and deeper trouble? In other words, how can he paint his hero into a corner then realistically get him out?

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The opening hook raises questions, piques curiosity, and draws the reader deeper into your story.

The Opening Hook

The following is an excerpt from my book, The Plot Thickens: 21 Ways to Plot Your Novel. A link to buy can be found here. The first chapter addresses the importance of writing the opening hook.

The opening hook raises questions, piques curiosity, and draws the reader deeper into your story.

How to Take the Headache Out of Starting Your Book

STOP STARING at that blinking curser and start your book. How? With a mind-blowing opening hook.

Even if you’re new to writing, you know the importance of the opening hook. It grabs your reader’s attention and convinces him to buy.

The opening hook raises questions, piques curiosity, and draws the reader deeper into your story.Click To Tweet

Without a compelling, question-producing opening, they aren’t going to read further. You have a few sentences to make an impression. Nowadays, no one has the luxury of time. You have to hit them fast and hard.

Your reader wants to be drawn into a believable world from word one. He expects to be entertained. Don’t disappoint him. Skip the protagonist sitting with a cup of coffee, contemplating the letter she received from dear Aunt Sally. Jump her right into the story—Aunt Sally died, but collecting the inheritance means quitting the job your protagonist loves and moving back to the town that gave her heartache.

Conversely, don’t plunge the reader so quickly into the story with a one-line exclamation from the protagonist. The reader has no context in which to place it. It’s a cheap device that’s been overused.

Instead, start where the protagonist’s problem begins, raise questions that intrigue the reader, and filter in back-story later.

What is a hook? It’s a device to catch the reader’s attention and pull him into the story.

A hook prepares the reader for what’s ahead—the immediate future of a character and introduces the conflict. It sets the mood and style and gives the setting—all the elements of who, what, why, when, where and how.

Continue reading How to Take the Headache Out of Starting Your Book—The Opening Hook

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What to name your fictional character

What to name your fictional character www.cherylsterlingbooks.com

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

One of the problems (and there are many) a writer faces is what to name your fictional character. A small minority (I don’t know of any) pick a random name and go with it. Others agonize, change, switch and procrastinate until they find the perfect name.

Personally, I don’t think there is a perfect name. Are you happy with your name? Most of us aren’t, yet I’ll bet our parents discussed it more than once. You, like most of us, grew into your name. I can’t imagine my life as a Bobbi Jo, one of the names my mother picked, but I’m comfortable as a Cheryl.

The best thing we can do is find a name that we’re comfortable with, that fits the genre, setting, historical content of the story and defines how the character looks, talks, and acts. Not hard, right?

What a character name should do

Continue reading What to Name Your Fictional Character

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