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story openings

Should Our Protagonist Be in the First Scene?

A face hidden by a hoodie with text: When Should Readers Meet the Protagonist?

Most stories open with the protagonist on page one, but every once in a while, our story seems to work best if we start with another character. If we understand why the protagonist usually works best as the point-of-view character for the first page, we might be able to remake those exceptions into stronger openings.

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February 17, 2015

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Cause and Effect: Understanding Story Flow

Waterfall with text: Don't Mess with Story Flow

In the real world, the cause of something happens before the effect. But in writing, we can put words into any order we want, which might leave the reader confused. If they have to reverse events in their head, they’re probably no longer immersed in our story. Not good.

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October 9, 2014

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First Pages: Tips to Avoid Cliches and Weak Writing

Blank book open to first page with text: What's on Your First Page?

Many stories “strike out” with readers in the first chapter. So our opening pages are just as critical to sales as our book cover, title, back-cover blurb, etc. Let’s take a closer look at cliches to avoid and tips to make those pages work for us.

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September 18, 2014

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NaNo Prep: 4 Tips for Starting Our Story

"Trail Starts Here" sign with text: 4 Tips for Starting Our Story

Tomorrow, thousands of writers will start their novel for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I’m not in a good spot in my writing project schedule to participate this year (*pout*), but I’m cheering from the sidelines. (I’m Jami Gold if anyone wants to buddy me.) On this occasion, I wanted […]

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October 31, 2013

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How to Find the Start of Our Story

Plant sprouting with text: Finding the Start of Our Story

A lot goes into deciding how to begin our story. We have to introduce the characters, the story, and the setting. We have to make it interesting, not confusing, or not accidentally misleading. Etc., etc., etc. If we think about it too much, we might seize up and not write […]

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September 3, 2013

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Book Series: Should We Include a Teaser Excerpt?

Child sticking out his tongue with text: Teasing Is Good When...

Yesterday, Kristen Lamb ran an encore of one of my posts from last year on her blog. We both liked that post because it discusses the importance of leaving the reader room to use their imagination. In the post, I made an aside about the danger of including a teaser excerpt […]

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August 1, 2013

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A Prologue Will Help Our Story When…

Knife with text: Prologues: When to Kill

Last time we touched on beat sheets because of a guest post I wrote for one of my Blogiversary winners. Today we’re going to talk about a subject that came up with one of my other Blogiversary winners: prologues. Prologues are hated by many editors and agents. Surprisingly, I’ve heard […]

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July 25, 2013

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What Soap Operas Can Teach Us about Writing

Floating soap bubbles with text: Writing Tips from Soap Operas

I don’t watch soap operas, but a bizarre conversation tangent (in other words, a perfectly normal conversation for me) triggered my thoughts comparing soap operas to novels. On the surface, they seem very similar. They both have characters, tension, and conflict. However, the more I thought about it, the more […]

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April 23, 2013

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3 Reasons to Love the Writing Community

Stones piled in heart shape on a beach

I’ve had a lot to be thankful for lately.  My family and I got away for a fun vacation, my klutziness didn’t result in too many injuries out in the middle of nowhere, and I survived being without internet access for much of the time. *smile* I was also reminded—again—how awesome […]

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June 12, 2012

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