Your Hosts: Dan, Howard, Mahtab, and Brandon
This episode comes from a question we’re often asked: “how do you stay excited about a story you’re working on?” We talk about how we maintain our passion for the stories we’re working on, and how that’s not the same as being super excited to write every time we sit down at the keyboard
Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 17:40 — 12.9MB)
Return to your notes or your outline and look for the things that excited you about writing this story. Write those down.
We’ve talked about beginnings this month. Now we’ll answer some of your questions on the matter. Here are the questions:
- What are there differences between the beginnings in different forms?
- How do you begin in media res when you’re not writing action?
- What’s the biggest mistake that can be made when plotting the beginning?
- I see a lot of big-name author beginnings that aren’t all that strong. Why should I spend time making my beginning awesome?
- How do you balance the need to have something happening right away against the need to have the reader know something about the characters?
- In creating a character, where do you start in the development process, and what do you begin revealing first?
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (13.9MB)
Take the world-building you’ve done, write your beginning, and then secretly write down your “gee-whiz.” Now run that beginning past some alpha readers, and have them attempt to identify the “gee-whiz.” Compare their answers with your own.
The first page is often the very hardest one to write. In this episode we talk about how to fill the space on the first few pages of your story, because those are the pages where you have to convince the reader to keep going, and the very first page is often the only chance you have to get the reader’s attention at all.
The good news is that the first words the reader reads are not going to be the first words that you write. You can find the story’s voice before you pour that voice into the those first pages.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 17:13 — 11.8MB)
Write your first thirteen lines, and see how much you can fit into that space—character attitude, point-of-view, mood, genre, conflict, setting, and more.
April is all about beginnings, at least as far as Season 10’s syllabus is concerned. So let’s start!
The cool stuff you plan to put in your story will need other stuff to set it up, and that setting up means that other stuff needs to come first. But how far down does that rabbit hole go?
In this episode we talk about how you can determine which elements of your story should come first. We also define (finally!) the term “promises” in the way we use it when we say “promises made to the reader,” and then we talk about how to figure out what promises we’re making.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 17:45 — 12.2MB)
Homework: Start writing your story! Write 500 words, focusing on just one of the promises you’ve identified for your story. Then stop, and start writing another 500 words with a different promise. Aaaand then do it a third time.
We haven’t discussed beginnings this in a while, and when we did, we summed it up with “in late, out early.” Now we’re going to talk about what needs to be present when you’re “in.” We talk about tone, and how the tone you set in your beginning is a promise made to your reader, using examples from George R.R. Martin and David Brin. We also talk about how useful (and how dangerously trite) a labeled prologue can be, and how important it is to establish a setting, especially in genre fiction.
This episode appears out of order with something else we recorded which we refer to, specifically a piece Mary is working on. Tantalizing, yes? Here is the episode you probably wanted to hear first.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 18:44 — 12.9MB)
Start a new story. Give us character, place, and sense of tone. Do it one sentence, and do it within 13 lines (which is what typically appears on the first page of a manuscript.)