HOW. Lesson 4
Welcome back to another class. I hope you had a fun week exploring the Internet, or your local bookstore to see how your book would fit into the market. Today we are going to learn about How.
How to get started? How long should it be? How to format an idea? These are all good questions, and we will start from the beginning. You have an idea, a story just bursting to get out and down on paper. How do you start?
First you need a time to set aside where you can spend an hour or two in order to write. You need a quiet, uninterrupted place, or time. Some of my stories came to me as a dream, and I woke up at 4 AM and had to write down everything I could remember. Later, I took these scribbling s and embellished, added, and completed all by sitting in three ways.
Let’s move on to formatting. You need a beginning, a plot, and an ending, not necessarily a conclusion. For the beginning, it is best to read the first page of a bunch of well-known bestsellers. At least that’s what they say. I have found that to myself, once they make it big, they write whatever they want, and a lot of their writings doesn’t make sense to me as far as what agents and publishers are looking for.
A Literary Agents blog: “Don’t start by describing the day.” (The sun broke silently, rising majestically into the morning clouds.) Blah, blah, blah. They have said the first line needs to grab them, so they want to read more. Like in a movie, they show a car catapulting into the air during a high-speed, gunfire chase scene, and it freezes. The caption or narrator says, “Let’s go back to see how this all began.” It has your attention, and you watch the stupid movie all the way through to that great scene at the end. This is how you need your first page to look, so they want to continue to read through your book all the way to the end.
I use this example quite often. “Claudia grabbed the knife and danced around the room.” Is she a bride at a wedding, happy and ready to cut the cake, or a deranged serial killer, or maybe a suicidal maniac, or is she just high on drugs? Maybe she was in fear for her life, and the word danced was merely to throw you off. Whatever way it is or was, it draws you in to read more. Now you can describe or set the scene and bring in your main character.
Some want to know up front all about the main character’s height, weight, color, hair, job, etc. other literary agents hate it, it’s boring. If you have four or five characters and describe each one with paragraphs, most people will lose interest. They want to read a story. Pages later, they will forget the characters characteristics anyway. I suggest introducing them one by one with little backgrounds of each, and add more about them in chapters to come. I mostly leave it up to the reader’s imagination. Every time you read a book then watch the movie, people say, “That’s not how I pictured him at all.” (A 40 year veteran editor said that many beginner writers do not describe enough. Form a character so we can visualize them and get closer to them. It’s like watch a movie with blurred faces.)
Now that you have your book started, it needs to go somewhere. It needs a plot. They say an entire book should be a constant conflict struggle, and should flip back and forth. All characters should have flaws, like Indiana Jones and his fear of snakes, or his swag look while a guy is waving two knives, then his fear after he reaches for his gun and it isn’t there. What does he do on the next page, or in the next chapter? Of course, they are chased, shot at, or tied up, but mostly all books end with the main character coming out on top. After the plot, all the drama and suspense that makes people turn the page, you need to wrap it up with an ending.
As I said before, it doesn’t have to have a conclusion. It can be left open-ended for a continual series as long as you have more adventures for your character. I have done both, and people have asked for more, either way. It can be a whole new adventure for the same characters, or the same story continuing on. It is totally up to you.
That’s enough for today. Groundhog Day is on Sunday, so we can see what the weather brings, or possibly get stuck in a day cycle reliving it over and over again. That’s what we writers do with our stories in order to get it right. Next week we will continue with How. I don’t want to bombard you with so much at once, so enjoy your week and
Happy Writing from rickkurtisbooks.com