Monday, November 5, 2012

on writing - first pages

Advice on first pages from agent Sarah Heller and author Kim Moritsugu:

1. The purpose of the first page is to engage the reader and thrust them
into the middle of the action.
2. You need to evoke a scene – what are you seeing, hearing, smelling?
Pick a small slice of life and flesh it out through tone and character.
Compel the reader to read more.
3. Set-ups need to lead to pay offs – if you introduce an interesting idea,
finish it.
4. Don’t drown the reader in adjectives. We see this a lot – you do not
have to write this way. Don’t be overly descriptive. Don’t write in ways
that could not happen in life. If your story is magical, that is okay if we
are still getting a sense of what you mean, but some kinds of fanciful
narration interfere with story. Plus, an overuse of adjectives may
indicate that a writer is trying too hard - a sign of being an amateur.

By Laura Alice Watt

5. Descriptive passages are not always a good thing. If I see long
descriptions of nature in a book, I skip them. If your story is about
relationships or coming of age then it is not about the place, so we need to
see more about the interactions than the place. The more I learn about writing,
the more I learn that the simple story is actually the most complex to write.
6. Engage in a scene – if someone is alone and thinking, that might not do it.
7. Make sure your narrator does not know too much, as this can be an
example of telling not showing. This pushes the reader out of the experience
and you lose their interest. Let the reader experience it, rather than establish
what the narrator is seeing.
8. I am a fan of being straightforward – the reader should be effortlessly
pulled into the narrative.
9. Starting a book with a character waking up works well in movies but
tends to not work well in novels, unless it is very well done. (I've read this
other places too).

On first person narratives:
1. With the first person narrative, the story must talk about that person’s
experience with his or her voice, even if you are describing what happened to
someone else. Your opening must make the reader curious and want to know
more about that person and their past.
2. Don’t depersonify body parts – say “I reached for,” or, “I saw” instead of,
“my eyes lifted up” – save magic for when it is due, so it is more compelling.
3. You can just say, “The sun is bright outside.” You don’t need to say, “I saw
the sun outside.” Also, it is better to just say, “I saw,” rather than, “I witnessed.”
(Full list at Fiction for a Change)

No comments:

Post a Comment