Monday, March 16, 2009

Gone?

Have I slipped under the radar, moved to Mazoula, been lost in the Amazon and eaten by cannibals? No. I had a stroke. In fact, I had three mini-strokes within as many weeks. Tough? Kind of, but not deadly thank God. I'm back, slowly rising from the ashes of my clogged arteries like the Phoenix. I'm not as attractive as that legendary bird, but I'm certainly as tenacious.

Writing? Not much right now. My mind still has a few dents and scratches, but they're slowly disappearing. I'll be up to full force in no time, but in the meantime, I'm regrouping and finishing those final edits on novel number two. As my previous post indicated, I'm almost finished. I don't think I'll trunk it for as long as was previously planned. These minor health interruptions have had it trunked for three weeks already, so sometime within the next three weeks, I'll open the trunk lid and have at it again.

The third novel is coming along nicely now. It was also inadvertently trunked due to the health crisis. Crisis breeds opportunity. At least, it certainly has in my case. I've taken a fourteenth look at those first pages and already found some things that can be improved.

As most of you know, the first five or so pages of any novel are the most important. The unwritten rule is that an author must grab the reader's interest within those pages or lose that interest forever. Something has to happen in that first chapter, something important to the story and something that tends to pique the curiosity in such a way as to lead the reader onward. By onward, I mean straight toward the cashier at the local bookstore.

Yep! How you begin is equally as important as how you end. The story must begin to race early. Oh, sometime after you've caught hold of the reader's imagination, there's room for character development and subplots, but those first events on those first pages should be tied directly to the main storyline.

A test: Go back. Read the first five pages of your work. Wrinkle your brow, tap your fingers, then ask yourself, "What happened in those pages?" If your answer is related to introduction of characters, description of setting and only to those things, you've probably started the story too early. If those things are there but hidden in the background of the main event, then keep on trucking or, in this case, writing.

3 comments:

. said...

Nice to see you back at blogging. Excellent points made, too. Not that I ever want you to have a stroke, let alone three, but you're a true testament to using adversity to move you forward. {HUGS}

The agents and editors I've talked to take your first five pages point and make it more extreme -- they give us about a paragraph to interest them. I know, so much, right? But their point is that the first line should "force" the reader on to the second line, which forces them onto the third, and so on. So that the reader is swept along and literally cannot or does not want to put the book down. If the agent/editor isn't captured within those first five pages, you're done. But you can be done by page 6, too. They are looking for reasons to say no, not reasons to say yes.

Hard? Sure, but not once you really hone your craft. That's one of the benefits of trunking -- you get the space and can look at the book with a fresh eye, which tends to spot clunkiness and areas to be tightened up, etc.

So, nice to see you back at it! You shall prevail and FORCE those editors and agents to keep on reading until "the end"!

Gini

WKEverhart said...

Thanks for your wizened comments, Gini. I keep on truckin', keep on trying...Maybe...Someday? Right?

David A. Todd said...

Willie:

So sorry to hear about your strokes, but glad to see you back at it and with a seemingly good spirit. Glad they were mild, and don't seem to have done any damage.

Dave