How to Start Your Novel

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I love to read.

I have easily read hundreds of books, not that I have actually counted. I have read great books, good books, decent books, okay books, and have even tried to tough out reading terrible books.

I, like a lot of readers, can usually tell if we want to keep reading a book by the end of the first page, usually even sooner than that.

A reader’s time is limited, and precious, if they cannot get past that first page, why in the world would they want to risk wasting any more time on your book, when there are thousands upon thousands of other books they can be reading?

It does not matter how amazing you think your story is, if you cannot hook your reader on the first page -not just the first page, but the first sentence.

That is where we will be starting. At the beginning.

If you want to draw in a reader, and ultimately a publisher so that your story will even get out to readers, you need a great first sentence. A hook. Something that will grab their attention so that they keep reading, and don’t want to stop.

A hook should invoke curiosity, why is this happening? Why is the person, or people, in this position? A good hook will make people want to keep reading to have those questions, or others like them, answered.

A hook should also present conflict, what will happen because of what was introduced in the hook?

It should also be an introduction for the action to come. Things should flow smoothly from there. If you have a great hook, you do not want the action to drop off after that. The suspense should only build higher from this point.

Below I have compiled some of the most well known hooks. Why are the well known? Why do they such a good job hooking the reader?

The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed. -Stephen King, The Gunslinger

  •  This hook invokes curiosity. Why is the Man in Black fleeing? Why is the Gunslinger  following? Who is the Man in Black? Who is the Gunslinger?
  • There is conflict. What will happen once the Gunslinger catches the Man in Black?
  • The hook itself already has action: fled, followed, but there is a lot of potential for more. Where is the Man in Black going?

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.  – J.R.R. Tolkein, The Hobbit

  • What is a hobbit?
  • Why is he/she in a hole?
  • What will happen when a hobbit leaves their hole?

It was a pleasure to burn. -Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

  • Why is something burning?
  • What is a pleasure to burn?
  • What will happen after the fire goes out?

The three hooks above are three well known lines, and there are so many more examples out there, that I could continue making posts just about them, but I don’t have that much time or patience.

So, if you’re writing a novel, do you have your hook?

What are some of your favorite hooks? Why do they work so well? Share below!

Leave me your thoughts, opinions, questions, what have you, below. I love to hear from you guys.

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Another Introduction

I would now like to introduce William Ashmore. His name means resolute protector in both English and German, while in French it means determined protector. I was drawn to the name, one, because I like the name William, and two, because of the meaning. It gives some insight into his character.

William is almost a direct contradiction to Amara. Where Amara and her family had to struggle to stay alive, William and his family were safe and protected, and he was shielded and pampered. He is 30 years old, and knows the exact date of his birthdate, July 19, 2039. Not that the exact date is revelevant to the story, but the fact that he had to luxury to know, and celebrate, his birthday is.

William gets his height and build from his father, being well over 6′, almost a whole foot taller than Amara, but his coloring he gets from his mother, golden skin, stunning green eyes, and rich chocolate colored hair, which he keeps long enough to brush around his collar. He has the build of someone who keeps himself in shape because he wants to look in shape, and of someone that always has plenty to eat. There is a different look between someone who exercises to look good, and someone who is in shape because of the job they do.

When Amara finds William, he is wearing a suit and tie, and fancy dress shoes. She is not only confused by this outfit, because it is not something people in her world wear, but exasperated by it, because it is not clothing that is conducive to survival, or travel.

Where Amara is quiet and reserved, William is friendly and exuberant. He loves to talk, and has no fear of people. He has never felt the need to be afraid of others, one, because of his size, and two, his father’s position and power. Though, he doesn’t flaunt or abuse his father’s status. His genuinely friendly, caring, and upbeat nature were fostered, and nurtured, by his mother.

He is generally easy going, quick to smile, revealing his dimples, and laugh. That does not mean that he does not have a serious side. He is not quick to anger, unless someone he loves is being threatened. He tends to stand, and move, certain ways, to make himself seem smaller, and less threatening, until he is angry, then he tends to tower over whomever has managed to gain his ire. Though, he does not hold on to anger, once it is spent, it is gone.

All right, so this is William.

What does everyone think?

 

Introducing…

Amara. p_20160131_214012_1.jpg

Amara is the protagonist in my, yet unnamed, novel-in-progress. Her name has multiple meanings, depending on the language: in German in means eternal or steadfast, in Greek it means eternal or unfading, in Igbo it means grace, in Sanskrit it means eternal, and in Latin it means everlasting or beloved. The meanings I was most drawn to were the German for steadfast, and the Latin beloved. She was beloved by her parents, who named her, and being steadfast is a facet of her personality.

She is about 26, but she doesn’t know her exact birthday, one, because it isn’t relevant to the story, and two, she was born in a post-apocalyptic world, so her parents’ main concern was keeping themselves, and her, alive, so they weren’t really focused on keep track of the date after things went bad. All she knows, is that she was born some time in the fall, shortly after the leaves had started turning colors.

She has gray eyes like her father did, but auburn hair like her mother. She keeps it cut short, about to her chin, for practicality’s, and safety’s, sake. It’s easier to take care of it, at chin length, things don’t get stuck in it. Plus, it’s a lot harder for someone to grab short hair than long. She’s about 5’5″, give or take, because she ended up being close to the same height as her mother, and that’s how tall she had been. She’s on the thin side, not by choice, food is hard to come by, so it is religiously guarded, and rationed. Her skin is well tanned, due to spending vast amounts of time outdoors, mostly because of a lack of safe shelter.

She has an old, beat-up, backpack she always wears, that was her mother’s, and a machete that was her father’s. She also carries both of their rings on a chain around her neck.

Amara tends to be quiet and reserved, only speaking when she feels like it is needed. This is due in part to being taught to be super cautious around people, spending a majority of her life only with her parents, and then the remaining portion of it alone. She is very logical, and has a hard time processing emotion, so she comes across as uncomfortable, and awkward in emotional situations. She can become easily annoyed with people, especially if she feels they are being illogical, and can often times be to blunt, again, due to limited social interaction. She does have a dry, or sarcastic, sense of humor, which can often be taken negatively.

Due to having a hard time understanding, and handling, emotion, she has an extremely hard time speaking about it. Trying to do so, often times, has her shutting down. That does not mean that she is emotionless, and does not care. In fact, she can care very deeply, and shows it by doing things for whomever she cares for, whether that be giving the last bit of a food item to them, because she knows it’s their favorite, or taking first watch, because the person did not sleep well the night before.

Well, that is Amara.

What does everyone think?

My next post will focus on another character. So look out for that.