writing tips

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?

Continue reading Avoid Sagging Middles and Lackluster Endings #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

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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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creativity killers

It’s #ThrowbackThursday, and we’re looking back to a post from 2009. How do you spark your creative process when you’re stumped?

The creativity killers have invaded

creativity killers

The creativity killers have invaded, and I’m stumped on how to spark my creativity. I’m at an odd place in my writing – too close to the end of one book to be interested in it (no surprises left) and not far enough into another to know what the characters are doing. Plus, it’s summer, and my attention has been pulled toward vacations, sunny days, and a four-day work week.
What to do, then, to spark the creative side of my mind and get back into the swing of writing?
Not plotting. Not goal, motivation and conflict.

We’re going back to old school, folks.

Hand writing. It’s an exercise called Morning Pages, and it’s the brainchild of Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way. The premise is to set aside a specific time every day and free write until three pages of 8-1/2″ x 11″ paper is filled.  No plotting, no stories, just whatever comes into your head and DON’T REREAD.  The thought is deeply buried problems will be revealed as well as the solutions.  After a specific period of time (I was given seven weeks.  I’ve made it through three days so far)  you’re to reread all your writing, circling the items you want changed and underlining action steps.  More often than not, the solutions are tucked away within your gripes.

Now, I haven’t read the book yet, and I’m taking the exercise from someone who participated in a class a decade or more ago, but it sounds like a solid theory.  I’m willing to give it a try.  So far, the writing has swung between griping about not having enough organization in my life and lists of ways I could organize it.  See, it’s working already.

Off now to put in my pages for the day.

Good luck on yours.

***2018 Cheryl returning****

p.s. I’ve since purchased The Artist’s Way.

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