I share these tips whenever I’m asked to speak about writing. If you’re a new writer, maybe they’ll help you, too.
The six most important things I learned about writing:
1. Start your story on the day life changed for your main character.
This means getting as close to the moment of impact as you can. Not two days before, heaven forbid you start out and ‘set up’ weeks of back story before we get to the moment life changed this hero. Start on the day – that’s the most interesting, valuable place to start.
2. Set up conflict in chapter one. We need to know what the stakes are so we can begin to be emotionally invested for the rest of the read. Lay it out on the first few pages.
3. Obstacles, obstacles, obstacles – for every character to overcome.
4. Touch on why? ( why is this happening ) When? Where? How? Who? And don’t forget the senses: taste, touch, smell -- In each chapter. And remember the key word: weave. Don’t tell us all of this in one chunk. The art is in showing. Not telling.
5. Weave back story, don’t dump it all at once. My pet peeve is the character descriptions in chapter one where the author starts telling the story and then takes a DD ( detail distraction ) by jumping off course with a huge paragraph on how the heroine is dressed, her long, flowing hair, emerald green eyes and every part of her outfit – right in the middle of setting up the action. No. This can come – woven in – a little here, a little there.
6. Write through block. Even if you hate it, think it’s going nowhere or is blah. You can cut and paste words but if your screen page is empty, well…
These are just a few tips, but I found them to be the most valuable in storytelling.