Pages - Menu

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Opening Paragraph Analysis

OPA in short. Today I wanted to speak of openings. I worked long and hard to develop mine and...Nathan Bransford is holding a contest! Isn't that sweet? Check it out here. Prizes are great.

You are standing in a bookstore and a cover catches your eye. The cover is beautiful, shiny, attractive. You pick up the book and read the blurb. Interesting, very gripping. You flip open to the first page. The book only needs to pass one more test for you to buy it. It starts with a guy waking up and thinking. Boring. Perhaps the rest of the book might be boring and written in this passive and cliche way?

Very many readers go to the first page when buying books. In fact statistics show that the first page determines readership involvement by 80%. They love it or hate it. For me, I never really followed the first page analysis, let alone first paragraph. When I pick up a book and the blurb is interesting, I read it. It might start boring, it may lag and be slow, but I'll read it, because I figure that the story may develop. That was before I understood and learned the publishing world. I viewed books quite differently before I began trying to get published. So if the first page isn't vital to buyers, why is it so darn vital? It is the first thing agents/editors look at. It decides the faith of your novel.

Agents and editors don't have much time. You can see that if you start reading all the entries to Nathan's contest you begin to skim. Go through those comments and try to see what it would be like to be an agent (he actually recommended that himself). You don't have enough time to eat every paragraph. You can't read through that much. You have other things to do. So when the first sentence doesn't grab you, what do you find yourself doing? I find that I pass and move on.

So, with all this talk, get to the point. How do you analyse the grip factor of your paragraph?
Yes, don't get me wrong. I need to get to the point. Now, I am no expert and I won't pretend to be. I am a teen writer that loves imagination and wants to hold her novel in her hands in the next few years while still being a teen. But, I did have great responses from agents on my first pages and had nearly a dozen partial requests. As you might know, I am now revising for a publisher and they told me that my first paragraph pulls you right in, so I imagine I can give some suggestion.

"The Coming" First Paragraph Analysis:

The Coming is what I am devoted to, is what I am revising and is what I intend to sell. I go by the phrase "If you want it enough, you will push till the end". To analyze your first paragraph you have to take each word separately. A good suggestion is reading each sentence separately so that you can separate them and see how they flow. So here is my analysis of my first paragraph.

Someone was going to die today. The first sentence instantly places the reader in tension. Someone is going to die. It sets a dark mood. There was no other choice: it was kill or die. No I set the fact that the MC has no choice and that his life is in danger. Vitiosus stared at the tall, bulky warrior and took a deep breath. Now you can really imagine what is going on. He's fighting. There is a warrior and that sets the setting. You probably are not going to imagine they are in space or in a mall or whatnot. He stepped forward. Gravel crunched below his feet and wisps of wind swirled about his head as he calculated his chances. With one final glance toward his father on the throne, he walked to the middle of the arena. He was determined to make his father proud of him — just this once.  That is the hook. Frome here you can see that he wants to make his father proud just one time. That tells us the backstory without telling backstory. His father clearly thinks the his son is a failure and here Vitiosusu wants to prove him wrong, just this once.

So there you go. My analysis.  I highly recommend you to take your own paragraph and analyze it to death. It you are getting rejected there is a problem. Me, well, I have had people tell me that I shouldn't start with action, but the requests and the feedback speak for themselves. Cheers!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Main Character


It's a big short word when condensed. Literally one of the main aspects of a novel. The driver of your story, the illustrator of your plot. A main character is a nucleus...A sun...

Everything that followes; plot, minor characters, setting revolves around that MC. That guy/girl is the attraction of the reader. They have to be well liked and well developed in order for the reader to want to know them They have to be cared for and they have to be exciting. So how do you know if your main character is exciting enough to read about? How do you compell an interesting person that lives with you will you read the novel?

To create a compelling MC

1. First and foremost create a sketch and get to know who they are. What does he/she like? What makes her/him angry? Are they neurotic? Are they stubborn?

2. Flaws. Everyone says that your character has to be flawed, not to be a Mary Sue or a Gary Sue. But when he/she is too flawed which everyone begins doing now that we are all trying to avoid having a Mary Sure character, THAT becomes cliché. Focus on your characters having their good and bad sides. But not too much of either. Think of yourself. I have flaws. I have my good sides. I am perfect in some things that involve creativity and athletics. I am also great at academics, but I have my flaws and so does everyone.

3. Think about this...Perfect is perfect in the eyes of the beholder. Just like beauty. For example; in the eyes of an evil king, imagine a perfect kingdom. To him it will be perfect, to others not. Thus there is no perfect that will be perfect to everyone and that makes me wander off to the topic of writing...The best writing will not be the best in everyone’s eyes.

4. Show their sympathy, their soft spots, their emotional core. We need to see what they lost, what plot surrounds them and how they will evolve through it. Bare them.

5. Last but not least, surround them with a very interesting situation. That is when I (reader) will really want to know what will happen to this interesting person in this interesting situation.

Test your current MC

So you have a main character? Most of us do, right? So ask yourself these questions and see if they can be improved.

1. The name of your MC, is it in sync with the story? For example if you are in future time, or in past times, does it work?

2. Does your character tend to whine about life allot?

3. Is your character so strong and swift that they never really get hurt much?

4. Does your character always get their way?

5. Does your character "change" at all throughout the course of your novel? When writing a novel it is very important to stick to your characters persona.

6. What is the PROBLEM your main character is facing?

7. What are their main traits?

8. Do they have fears?

9. How is the problem going to change your MC?

10. Do you connect with your MC when you write? Does it feel like you are writing about live flesh?

These are just some of the questions you can ask yourself, and your character. The main important thing is to keep on track and when creating a main character birth a person. Not someone that you thought was cool, but a real person that you will lead through the hardship of your story. Feel free to share your experience and how you create a compelling character. Whether you get inspiration from other people, or other stories.


P.S. Another great activity to help with Main Characters is analyzing MCs from your favourite novels.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The award for sytlish blog goes to...

Hi writers! The great Alyson over at her blog has awarded me with a stylish blogger award. YAY! Thank Alyson. I am very happy that people out there seem to be enjoying my blog :) Sweet. According to the Rules of this award I must now bestow this award unto other worthy blogs, and...

1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award - DONE
2. Share 7 things about yourself - DONE
3. Award 10 recently discovered great bloggers - DONE
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!  - Doing
7 things about me:

Well, what have I not shared before. Let me think....Let's focus writing.
1. On the manuscript that I am working, I am revising for a literary agency and a publisher so I cannot wait to see what they'll say. Wish me luck!
2. I can't live without my every morning gym workout.
3. I write listening to music. Always. Only. Mostly music that matches the scenario i.e. battle scene - Epic War music :)
4. I tend to like antagonists sometimes.
5. My main character used to be the antagonist.
6. I love dark fiction, things and fantasy.
7. I don't read that much fiction. At all. I read books about writing, non-fiction and such, but I am not a bookworm.

The award goes to...Drum roll...
10 very stylish and great blogs!

Happy Blogging!

Monday, January 17, 2011

AutoCrit, Editing and the RED Pen

I read other blogs allot and quite recently I stumbled upon a great blog that recommended...


An editing software.  Now you can try it our free, but you can only paste a minimum amount of words. You can also purchase a package. So it is what it says it is. It is a critique software. I tried it and at first I liked it but when I looked into it, it can do nothing that I can't do myself with a red pen. So I sat down and looked through these specific redundancies, words and cliché phrases I should avoid and piled up a list for you guys to enjoy. I highlight each word in a different color and I find that it REALLY helps for the sentences to be smooth and not overdone. For example adverbs are needed. We should not take away all adverbs yet they should be used sparingly.  So here is...


Convict Telling Words:
Search for past & present


Adverbs Period. (words ending with ly) such as...


ING sentences. Turn them to the NOW. For example...

Staring at him, he grabbed at his head.
He stared at him and grabbed on to his head.
(Weird example but you get the idea)


This and that and that and that. Stop with too many ands. Connect sentences with action instead.

Extra Pest Words to Avoid (not always!)

WAS (This is a big one)

I found from my own writing that these are the words that you should be most looking for and perfecting on your last edit (and the first). I placed my text into the AutoCrit and it said that my writing isn't overflowing with these words which was great to know, but I certainly got a lot of help from compiling this list and creating a diagram for every chapter on which words are overused and descriptions I should avoid. Happy Writing! Cheers.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Reading AND Writing

I was just thinking that when we read novels and certain phrases may pop up in our novel. They may just pop up...I have a writer friend of mine who is a great fan of Twilight. Now, I am not a Twilight hater. But neither am I a fan. Every work of art is in fact a work of art and I feel that lots of haters are jealous of Stephanie's success (or author authors in other cases). This isn't the topic of today's post. So when reading his manuscript I stumbled upon a few small sentences and description that were from the Twilight book (I haven’t read it fully, but they were from certain parts I’ve skimmed). Yikes. How much do you read when you write and has your "mind" ever copied great sentences that you loved?

For me, I was never much of a reader and that may be surprising being that I began to write. I read, yes...But I read very little. Maybe just even a few books a year and those were the books that I got as gifts. I couldn't NOT read them. Sometimes I think that maybe my writing would have improved faster if I read more. Maybe. But at the same time, I began writing because I couldn’t find the novel I wanted. I couldn't find the story I was inclined to find, thus, why not write it down? Well, I did. Now that I have my story down, I find that I didn't plagiarize or steal because I simply didn't know much other works...

And this was the time to begin reading other works. To see what they did right and what I did wrong. To see what needs to be fixed. To understand the rules. I haven't read much novels yet in the fantasy genre, but I've picked up a couple of best sellers last year...See, I am a TOTAL bookworm. I read three books in 2010. WOW!!! I personally believe that it really depends on each and every individual, just like a critique. If you give the same writing to 5 people their critiques will be so different you will go hazy just looking at them. One person liked that part, the other said its terrible, remove. What I can say is that from my own experience you have to base your trust upon yourself, and knowledge. Yes, that is the key. Let me know what you think.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011, a FRESH start...

Happy New Year's everyone! I have to say that New Year's is one of my favorite holidays for so many reasons. I love a fresh start and though really we made up years for ourselves, I feel that this year starts out with a clean slate. So when we come to the New Year, we start thinking of our goals, and us writers, well...we think about writing goals. So asides from your amazing celebration what goals did you set for yourself this 2011?

I, for one, am not starting fresh in writing. I still am on a path of revising my novel to ultimate perfection in order to achieve publication. I am so passionate about this novel that I cannot give up on it and abandon and betray my characters and I know that I am just a string away from my goals. So this year, this 2011, I really want to get a contract. For me, I think this is a realistic goal, because I don't set unrealistic goals, I think those can ruin your self-esteem if you can't reach them. But, this 2011...What do you want to do in your writing life?