Writing a good story?

Every time I read something, I stop and ask myself, “Why did this author think I would be interested in this?”

I use that rule of thumb in my own writing, too. Always ask this question:

What would make my dad, my husband, my mother, my sisters, my brothers, my best friend…whoever…want to read this BESIDES the fact that I’m related or they know me…?

There are ways to make ANY topic appeal to any reader:

Remember to have a solid opening, a good hook. If you don’t have that, you can lose them on the first page.

Cherry Weiner, an agent in NY that is reported to sell a book every 4 days, told me that she looks for books that open with a bang, a volcano erupting, a murder, or something big. So, there’s an idea.

Philip Martin, publisher of Great Lakes Literary, editor at Scalarra Press, gave a workshop at OWFI last weekend and he said that he looks for a good set-up. He used the term “Avoid McSettings.” You know how McDonald’s restaurants all look the same? Give us the details that set the place apart, and make us feel like we’re there.

The House of Usher comes to mind. That book opens with a deep description to the air around the place. Can you sell something like that these days? Philip says you can.

Whichever way you open, it needs to be something that pulls the reader in. I personally prefer to get the reader feeling what my hero or heroine feels. I believe that is the best hook in the world. The quicker the reader cares about what happens to your main character, the less likely they are to sit the book aside.

And the more likely they are to remember your characters after they are finished reading your story. I have people who read my first novel 3 years ago when it came out that still email me to talk about the characters, starting their emails (or in person conversations with) “I was just thinking about that scene…”

To me, that is the greatest compliment to my writing–that I’ve created an unforgettable character or event.

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One Response to “Writing a good story?”

  1. Joy Says:

    That first question you posed is a good one, which made me think. It’s always good to be reminded that we want to grip readers from the beginning and keep them emotionally involved with the characters.

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