It’s Friday, folks!
I’m very sorry I didn’t write a blog post this Monday! This week has been insanely busy (but incredibly exciting and wonderful) as we are hosting a writing week with some wonderful out-of-towners and a friend from home. I shall return Monday to tell you more about how wonderful that’s all been.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to make sense of it all; it’s been a bit crazy…
But in the meantime, we’ll get to this week’s questions:
Cindy Sauer asked: Do think being able to write stories is a creative gift people are just naturally born with, or can anyone develop it? It sounds like you just have these ideas popping into your head all the time - from beginning to end. Me, on the other hand, I can come up with great beginnings, but that's it - I never can figure out where to go with them. When you come up with a story idea, do you have to sit down and really think out where it is all going, plot it out, etc. or does it just flow naturally. I guess I'm wondering if I'm just not putting in the time I need, or if I just don't have "it"
This is a really hard question to answer because it’s rather complex. I think both options are a possibility. Some people are born with a natural ability to write and so they cultivate that talent and excel. Others, however, are not born with that ability but, at the same time they are drawn to writing and have a desire and inclination to create stories. So they take classes or read books or just study writing by reading and become successful that way.
I, for example, am very much a natural when it comes to writing characters. I can’t for the life of me, however, write plots. They are just so hard for me to come up with. But, because I’ve studied and worked at it, I’m able to create better plots. So it is with people who aren’t born with a knack for writing. If they are truly dedicated to learning to write and putting the amount of time (which is a crazy, insane amount, as it is with learning anything) they will be able to “make themselves a writer” in a sense.
And, honestly, I think that people like that actually have an advantage over writers who are born with that knack because they start out by putting so much work and dedication into their writing that it becomes natural for them. Whereas with someone like me, I’m so used to things coming easily that when they don’t I’m inclined to drop the story because it’s no good. When really, it just needs a little dedication and some old-fashioned hard work.
And, Lindsay Marie asked: What are some techniques you like to use to hook readers at the very beginning of the story?
Interestingly enough, this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately and have hoped to write a blog post about. But, since that obviously hasn’t happened, I’ll give you a condensed version here (and maybe write the longer blog post later…)
Something I’ve always been taught is that one must hook their readers with the very first sentence. Also, the opening scene must have action, especially of a very intense nature. But, then I started reading popular YA fiction books (because if I’m going to write the genre, I should know what’s hot, right?) and started noting that most don’t follow that pattern.
It seems YA novels start with normal things, like a girl getting ready for her day or getting her hair cut. And yet, the author works to weave in details to tell us that while this is a normal day for the main character her life and world are far from normal.
I think this method is more effective because throwing a super intense scene at your reader right off the bat can be a bit much or hard for them to get into. So, starting them off slowly but offering enough to intrigue them draws them in much more efficiently.
So, I would say that’s the best technique for me- to intrigue the reader enough to make them want to spend the rest of the book with my hero and in their story world. Try to raise questions and create emotion, don’t be confusing but leave things vague enough that they want to keep reading to find out more. Draw them in so slowly they don’t even realize they’ve been tricked into reading a few chapters instead of the few sentences they started out intending to read.
Take the reader by the hand and guide them into the story. Don’t force them into the action too soon or shove them into a world until they’ve fully decided they want to enter it. Because in the end, being gentle is always a good idea.
And that’s that, folks! I’ll be announcing a winner next Friday. This month’s winner will be able to choose a topic for an upcoming blog post (whether it’s a short story prompt, something they want me to talk/rant about, a book review, or some other thing they come up with). I’ll also be answering questions next week, so it’s not too late to get your name in there!
So, make sure you email me! I can’t wait to hear from you.
And, in the meantime, I’ll hopefully see you here at the beginning of the week!