Sunday, October 26, 2014

Where do I begin?

Self-promotion and marketing makes me feel dirty. It's basically been my life this past week and I feel like I need a chemical shower. But hey, such is life. The problem is I don't like giving a pitch, I'd rather have a conversation. I'm not a salesman, I'm a writer.

And I much prefer talking about writing. Which is what I'm going to do to today. Earlier today, somebody asked me where I begin writing. This was a two part question, the first part of which was that dreaded "where do your ideas come from?" question that I hate and am not going to talk about right now.

But the second part of that question - the more practical part of that question - is where do you begin telling your story? The smart arse here says "At the beginning" but that's not at all helpful.

So, instead, consider these five tips on how to begin your story.

1. Begin as late in the story as you can. Let everything unfold off the page as long as you can and still have the story make sense. All the important stuff that comes before chapter 1, the history, the lives your characters led, the way the world fell into darkness, tell that later on in the story. Begin as late in the tale as you possibly can.

2. Begin somewhere interesting. Protip: "interesting" in terms of a narrative is often synonymous with "conflict." Begin with a conflict.

3. The first conflict should swiftly lead to more conflicts the audience should know (or think they know) where the story is going, who the protagonist is, what the central conflict is that drives the book and what the protagonist hopes to accomplish at the end of the story.

4. Those first words matter. If you can make it memorable, make it memorable. If you can make it powerful, make it powerful. If you can make that first sentence grab the reader, make it so.

5. Those first words actually don't matter a whole lot. This is especially true in your first draft. Remember, you have unlimited retried and opportunities to fix them. But ultimately, good first words are a bonus but they alone won't win your reader's long term affection.

That's all for today class. Remember, Pilgrimage releases in all major ebook stores, on all platforms and in all formats in less than a week. Pre-order it now and you not only get a damned fine book, but you win my eternal gratitude. How's that for a guarantee?

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