Hook your reader with your first line. Whether you’re writing a novel, short story, flash fiction, or nonfiction, your first line is important. The next time you agonize over creating that killer first line that forces your reader to continue, check out this list of ideas for inspiration.
According to Donald Barthelme, “A writer is someone who, embarking upon a task, does not know what to do.” In fact, Barthelme thinks that not knowing is essential to the creation of art.
Think about it. If you know exactly what to do, you simply do it. You don’t consider alternatives, you don’t ponder “what if,” you don’t look for a better way. Out of the meanderings of the mind, creativity is born. That is where uniqueness lies, where your voice is waiting to be found, where the spark that inspires and fires up a piece comes to light. Not knowing is good when it leads you down a new path.
Ignorance may or may not be bliss, but it can definitely be opportunity.
Regardless of where a bookstore shelves Women’s Fiction, to a publisher seeking that genre a book isn’t Women’s Fiction just because it’s something a woman is likely to read or because it has a female protagonist.
It isn’t Romance. A romance focuses on the relationship and the developing romance, and it must have a “happily ever after” ending. If it’s Romantic Suspense, the suspense helps drive the romance.
The theme of Women’s Fiction is understanding women. What is it like to be a woman? What are her hopes and dreams? Does she have a goal in life? How does a woman deal with challenges? How do experiences change her? It may or may not have a romantic element. It might have sex scenes, but not necessarily. The “happily ever after” ending? Not required. Readers can relate to the real life situations in these books, where Romance often has a element of fantasy about it.
Although the definition may blur for some publishers, Women’s Fiction is a popular genre separate from the traditional romance and one well worth considering.
We read so much about making our characters come alive, it’s easy to forget about our settings. If our settings come alive, they add so much to the impact of our work, just as much as a strong character does. Here is advice on settings courtesy of Donald Maass and Writer’s Digest.
Here are some useful links if you’re writing mystery:
There is a Yahoo group for fiction and nonfiction crime writers where you can ask and get answers on crime scene investigation, applied forensics, and police procedure questions. You can either go to yahoogroups.com and search on “crimescenewriter” or just click this link.
The Practical Homicide site has some articles that might be helpful.
30 minute NPR interview with mystery writers Tana French and Louis Bayard on How To Write a Great Mystery
Thirteen free online mystery writing lessons from Gillian Roberts, author of the Amanda Pepper Series
There’s a treasure trove of advice for mystery writers at Writing World.
15 mystery writing tips courtesy of Writers in the Storm
Effectively leaving clues in a mystery from Literary Library
Any links for mystery writers you’d like to share?
The Savvy Authors Scrivener class I’m taking is almost done. So glad I did this. Scrivener is a great writing/organizing tool.
I haven’t tried the Save the Cat technique yet, but my Scrivener instructor has some tips on doing that here.
Whether you’re gearing up for November’s Nanowrimo or writing a novel at your own pace, a good story is key in today’s world. Starting with a good plot can save a lot of time and keep you on track. The Writer’s Workshop offers free, concise advice on plotting a novel that’s worth checking out.
Pamelyn Casto publishes a free monthly e-mail newsletter devoted to markets, contests, and publishing news for short-short literature 1,500 words or fewer (including flash fiction, short-short fiction, prose poetry, haibun, flash memoirs, flash creative nonfiction, flash plays).
Tips on how to create suspense in an ordinary scene courtesy of Writers Digest..
SLICE magazine is open to short fiction, nonfiction and poetry submissions. Pays $100 for stories and essays and $25 for poems.