2-Sentence Hook?

Can you actually hook a reader in two sentences? I have problems with my elevator speech and that’s a lot longer than two sentences. However, the answer is yes, and I know from experience, you had better hook your reader, or literary agent, right away if you want to make a sell.

The next question for me, is how do I write a 2-sentence hook? My story is complicated, and I don’t even know where to begin.

A 2-story hook has three components. These not only provide the gist of your story, but also an abbreviated outline of what you are trying to accomplish.

  1. Character –  Who is your hero or heroine? You don’t want to give that character a name in your 2-sentence write up. Give them an identity.                     Not Anne, but a young orphan girl.                                                                                Not James, but a young boy born into slavery.
  2. Core Desire – What does your character really want? To be loved, respected? To become famous or rich? What is motivating your characters actions? This is something I’ve discussed in previous blogs. It has to be relatable.
  3. Obstacle – The inciting incident threatening the core identity of your hero/heroine. It doesn’t have to be a big problem, but it does have to be big in your character’s mind.

You can embellish your hook by adding more description or upping the stakes (the clock is ticking).

A young corpsman involved in an IED explosion in Afghanistan loses his memory and struggles to regain his identity.  He is misidentified and placed in the home of total strangers.

My first attempt at a 2-sentence hook. It leaves a lot of questions, but I guess that is the hook. Hopefully your reader will want to know more.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

 

 

2-Sentence Hook?

Avoid Speed Bumps

1490400252235When you’re writing a novel, you want your story to keep moving forward from beginning to end. If your reader stops at any point while reading, you have set up a speed bump and created an opportunity for your reader to slip out of their suspension of disbelief.

You want them to continue at a nice, smooth pace until the end, accepting every coincidence and slightly questionable story line. They should be lost in the story not in your words.

Common Speed Bumps of Aspiring Authors

Beautified Prose/Written-eese

“The firedrop from the pommel of Tambre’s sword shot past the shimmering silver mist of her involuntary dispersal.”

Now that was a pretty sentence, but you can’t tell me it didn’t slow you down and make you think about what the author was actually trying to say. If you’re like me, you had to read it several times

Trying to impress others with your words is not the way to go. Be natural, be yourself, and it would probably help if you closed the thesaurus as well.

On-The-Nose Writing

Prose that mirrors real life without advancing your story.

Paige’s phone chirped, telling her she had a call. She slid her bag off her shoulder, opened it, pulled out her cell, hit the Accept Call button and put it to her ear.       

“This is Paige,” she said.

“Hey, Paige.”

She recognized her fiancé’s voice. “Jim, darling! Hello!”

We don’t need to be told that the chirp told her she had a call, that her phone is in her purse, that her purse is over her shoulder, that she has to open it to get her phone, push a button to take the call, identify herself to the caller, be informed who it is.  I think you’re getting the point.

Narrative Dumps

Prose that comes out of nowhere and does nothing but describe, is known as a ‘narrative dump’. It can bring your story to a stand still and pull your reader out of the action. Instead of progressing through your storyline, they find themselves on the outside looking in.

I’m not saying you can’t use description. Description is good and helps your reader visualize characters, settings, and much more. But it should be used sparingly. It should add to and enhance your sentence, not distract and overtake it.

One word of caution when using research material to make your story more authentic, remember your research and detail are the seasoning for the story. Don’t make them centerstage. You don’t want to overwhelm your readers with unnecessary information.

Head Hopping

If you switch POV characters to quickly or dive into the heads of too many characters at once, it can Jar the reader and break the intimacy with the scenes main character. In other words, going back and forth between POV characters, can give a reader whiplash. You should never have more than one POV character per scene.

You should also avoid run-on sentences, close the thesaurus (I think you know what I’m getting at), and purchase a copy of ‘The Elements of Style’ by Strunk and White-I’m just saying 🙂

-Jan R

Avoid Speed Bumps

Offer Your Support – Be A Friend!

friendship-ancient-roman-how-to.jpgI’ve been in a crazy busy season over the past year. I’ve allowed distractions to get in the way of my blogging and writing. I know we all have times in our lives when we have pulled away from the things we want to do to put out fires and handle a crisis, but I let mine get out of hand and it really impacted my writing time as well as my relationships with fellow bloggers.

I went back to my posts and found a blog I had written several years ago for inspiration. If You Build It They Will Come.  The gist of the blog was if you want to have friends, you have to be a friend. They want just come without an invite.

You can put your thoughts out there in a blog and you might get a hit from time to time, but developing relationships, supporting fellow bloggers, and just taking the time to say hey, can make all the difference in the world.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

 

Offer Your Support – Be A Friend!

Plot Holes-Just For Fun :-)

Hopefully, at this point, you know what plot holes are. They are gaps or inconsistencies that go against the flow of logic established by the stories plot.

When you are writing, you know what’s happening and you may not question why Suzie is talking to Jeff about needing a job in one paragraph and working for him in the next. I’m not saying you need every little step in order for your reader to follow what’s going on. I’m sure most people don’t want to know she woke up, took a shower, put on her favorite dress, ate some Cheerios, and brushed her teeth with Crest toothpaste before walking out the door to go to work, but if Jeff gave her a job, I think that’s pretty darn important. This is a missing plot piece.

Like I said, you know what’s going to happen next so you can smooth out the inconsistencies in your mind while you’re reading, but your reader does not. They are left confused and questioning how the character got from point A to point B, or why they can’t progress to point C – when it’s the logical choice.

The following pictures showcase a few infamous plot holes that should help you understand a little better what I’m trying to say.

 

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landscape-1441755172-titanic-plot-hole

I think you get the picture. Make sure your plot makes sense. Your reader is smart and they will catch on. Push them too far and you may lose them.

Hope this gave you something to think about.

-Jan R

 

 

Plot Holes-Just For Fun :-)

Perseverence-Revisited

Cb3l1HoVAAEOgtTSince my adventure began six years ago, I have read numerous stories from well known authors about their journey to becoming published. I put so much time and effort into my craft I couldn’t help but feel discouraged, and I wondered what I was doing wrong. It helped and encouraged me to know that I was not alone but in great company.

The one common theme in all of their stories was perseverance. The agent that worked with me on my book, always ended her critiques with don’t give up. Perseverance is the one characteristic that all successful writers have.

If you have a high quality, marketable piece of work, persevere and you will eventually find an agent and get published. Kathryn Stockett wrote The Help over a five year period of time, then had three and a half years worth of rejections. 60 in all. It was agent 61 who took her on. The book spent 100 weeks on the best seller list.

Other notable Authors who suffered rejection:

  • Richard Adam’s Watership Down 17 rejections
  • Frank Herbert’s Dune  20+ rejections
  • JK Rowlings’  Harry Potter 12+ rejections
  • Nicholas Sparks’  The Notebook 24 rejections.

I hope you are getting the picture.  Revise, edit, do what you have to do to make your story great and don’t give up.

Hope this offered a little encouragement.  I know how disheartening it can be to send your baby out and have it rejected. Don’t take it personal and don’t give up.

-Jan R

Perseverence-Revisited

Read It All!

Genre.htmI have to admit I’m a hopeless romantic. I just love stories where boy meets girl, you throw in a little conflict (okay a lot), but everything works out in the end, and of course, they live happily ever after.

There’s nothing wrong with romance and wanting the happily ever after, but if you’re only reading one genre (romance, scifi, mystery, horror) you’re limiting yourself.  I never really thought that much about it, until I read a blog on why I should be reading all genres.

From my perspective, I write romance. I need to know what’s out there and what’s selling. How do other romance authors handle the physical and emotional sides of the relationships?

All of these reasons are valid, and I should be reading romance. But you know what? That novel has a lot more than romance in it. At least it had better have, if I want to keep my readers’ attention.

I may be great at developing a romantic relationship between my hero and heroine, but I had better be able to create the mystery and suspense necessary to keep my readers’ turning the page.

You may be writing a sci-fi novel, but odds are there’s a romance between your two main characters, and no one can explain why the lab assistant is lying on the floor dead, and there’s a  hole in the wall leading into the parking lot.

You can’t just read sci-fi and expect to be a well rounded writer. You might find yourself creating awesome aliens, but lacking when it comes to developing a relationship between the hero and heroine.

Reading different genres will make you a stronger writer. You’ll be introduced to new worlds and situations that would never arise in your typical horror, sci-fi, romance, or fantasy. Reading different genres will open your mind and encourage you to take risks that you may have never considered.

If that’s not enough, reading different genres will also allow you to read as a reader. Instead of focusing on the author’s style, you can simply enjoy the experience of reading 🙂

Hope this helped.

-Jan R

Read It All!

Help Your Reader Connect!

500-words_TestI just read through and edited my novel for God knows the number of times, I’ve lost count. That’s a problem in itself. I should be more efficient and effective with my time, but I’ll save that issue for another blog.

While my work is grammatically and structurally sound, the scenes flow, and there are no obvious plot holes, something’s missing, and I need to figure out what it is.

I followed all the rules, but it takes more than rules to pump up that novel and make it interesting enough for someone to want to purchase. You need to cover all of the basis, not just the technical ones.

I went back and did something I haven’t done in six months. I hate to confess, but I haven’t been reading. I love historical romances and have at least twenty sitting on a shelf that I haven’t read. Why? I don’t have the time.

I picked up one of them this past weekend and began reading. What was it about the novel that was drawing me in? What was it this novel had, that mine didn’t?

One thing that jumped out at me was character development. I have distinguishable and I think likable characters, but the depth that you get from introspection, from getting into the characters’ heads, is missing. I’m lacking that something that helps the reader connect with the characters and care about what happens to them.

I know my characters. I don’t need an explanation for why Josh did what he did. I don’t need to include what motivates him for myself. He is real to me and I care about him. I know everything about him. But my reader doesn’t.

My reader only knows what I tell them. You have to make those characters come alive and be as real to your reader as they are to you. Give them some details ( don’t over do it with mindless chatter-that creates another issue). Help them to understand your characters and why they act the way they do. Yes, you want the characters to be likable, but there’s so much more.

I’m getting off on a tangent. This blog was supposed to be about reading, and I’m morphing it into what I discovered when I picked up that novel. I guess that’s okay.

Hope you were able to take something from this blog.

-Jan R

Help Your Reader Connect!

Dangling Modifiers :-) – Revisited

4803157_700bHave you ever read a sentence and stopped? You go back and read it again and again. Sometimes you probably laugh out loud, because it’s funny and definitely not what the author had in mind.

You want see those sentences in published work very often. By the time your manuscript hits the publishers desk, the sentences have been cleaned up.

So if you haven’t figured it out, I’m talking about sentences with dangling modifiers. A modifier describes, clarifies, or gives more detail about a concept.

A dangling modifier is misplaced because it doesn’t have anything to modify. The word or words a dangling modifier should modify have been omitted or misplaced. I know you hear professionals say cut, cut, cut, but some words should not be cut.

“Always suspect an -ing word of dangling if it’s near the front of a sentence; consider it guilty until proven innocent.” –Patricia O’Connor.

Incorrect: Reading the regulations, the dog did not enter the park.

  • “Reading the regulations” is a dangling modifier.
  • The dog cannot read the regulations; the word(s) that “reading the regulations” modifies have been omitted.

Correct: After reading the regulations, I did not enter the park with my dog.

And then there’s…

The kind mother, handed out bologna sandwiches to all the children in Ziploc bags. (What were they doing in Ziploc bags?)

The robber was in his late thirties and about 6’2″, with long curly hair weighing about 160 lbs. (I think I would cut a little bit of that hair.)

The homeowner chased the intruder wearing nothing but his underwear. (Who was wearing nothing but underwear?)

Just for laughs…..

  1. Coming out of the market, the bananas fell on the pavement.
  2. With his tail held high, my father led his prize poodle around the arena.
  3. I saw an accident walking down the street.
  4. Freshly painted, Jim left the room to dry.
  5. He held the umbrella over Janet’s head that he got from Delta Airlines.
  6. Lost: Antique walking stick by an old man with a carved ivory head.
  7. The company’s refrigerator held microwavable lunches for 18 employees frozen in the top compartment.

I know most of you have dangling modifiers down, but they are so much fun.

-Jan R

Dangling Modifiers :-) – Revisited

Are You Muddling Through The Middle?

beginmuddleend4When you write a novel, one of the things you’re probably going to experience, is the mayhem in the middle. You have a great story idea, with a great beginning and a great ending. The only problem is, you haven’t thought about what happens when you get to the middle.

That’s exactlly where I’m at in the process. I completed going through and editing my rough draft yesterday.  I then reflected on what I had written. I love the beginning and the end. There are some great moments in the middle, but something is lacking. I’m muddling through the middle.

Most people who fail to complete their novel, become lost in the middle. They bail when they realize they don’t have enough cool stuff to fill the pages. They may attempt to add scenes, but become bored, and know readers will be too.

Every book becomes a challenge a few chapters in. Trying to keep up the tension and pace gets harder and harder. But don’t panic or do anything rash, like give up.

What can you do? If you’re one of those people who hasn’t developed an outline, thinking it would just come to you as you muddled through, maybe you should consider backing up and doing one. That’s were I’m at now.

An outline to set every scene gives you a blueprint of what will happen next. If the action starts to wane, think about a subplot or introduce tension between your main characters. Maybe there was a misunderstanding, or maybe that one minor character that was suppose to be the good guy, isn’t what he appears. Maybe the butler did it, but nobody knows.

You can have so much fun with subplots. Just keep them believable and resolve them all in the end.

Hope this helped.

Jan R

Are You Muddling Through The Middle?