Seasoned (or experienced whichever you prefer) authors give advice all of the time. That’s good for us other writers that inhales advice so we can be better. Some of my favorite bit of advice I have picked up along the way are:
1. Show, don’t tell
2. Use the five senses in each scene
3. Only use dialogue when it will push the story along
A common piece of advice I’ve noticed writers use is always have a strong beginning. It is great advice don’t get me wrong but is it really that important?
When is it appropriate?
Genre novels such as thrillers, mysteries, horror and espionage are the best to use the strong beginning tip. These genres usually are fast paced so a powerful start is needed.
So when is it necessary?
Romance is one of the first genres that comes to mind. There is no point in having an in your face beginning to a romantic story. Chic lit or erotica neither.
Pressure opens the door for more mistakes
Ok so you have it engrained in your mind to bring it on the beginning, you struggle, lose sleep, and maybe pull a few strands of hair out or grow a few grey hairs over trying to get that perfect start. There are consequences to putting all of your eggs in the beginning basket.
You’ve put so much in the beginning you have no more energy for the rest of the novel. You have to leave some tricks in the bag. Make your reader salvitate through the whole thing not just the first chapter. It will take some serious discipline to not put all the fireworks at the beginning but you can do it.
There is that temptation to add fireworks that doesn’t even fit with the story. Say you are doing a romance. The female is in a country looking for love but she doesn’t speak their language. In the opening scene there is a natural disaster, her place has been robbed, her father back home suffers a heart attack and her aunt is pregnant. Now what in the world does that have to do with her finding love? Not a damn thang in my book.
What are some of the things that agents cringe when reading terrible novels? Some I don’t understand why but hey, everyone has their quirks. Here are 10 things that just gets under literary agents’ skin:
1. Opening scenes that are dreams. Why is this a problem? If it correlates with the story then it should be there.
2. Sci-fi novels that has lengthy landscape description. I read a story that had this problem and by the time I was through with the scene I had forgotten what I was reading.
3. Prologues. A lot of agents/ publishers have a problem with this but again if it is appropriate for the story then include it. I’ve read a lot of novels who do and do it successfully.
4. Endless character description. Aw yes, I really don’t need to know that Bobby has a mole on the inside of his nose. Eeww, TMI!
5. Characters doing nothing. If the first sentence to a novel reads, Joanne sat and stared in her mirror for three hours would you continue? Please stop lying.
6. Cliche openings. The moon shown bright in the dark sky. Um, been there, read that.
7. Telling not showing. It took me a long time to grasp this one. Let me give you an example. Which sentence is more interesting?
Tiffany was mad after finding out her man cheated on her.
Tiffany took all of Steven’s clothes and threw them onto the street including the black lace boyshorts the other woman left in her bed.
See the difference? Sometimes showing is a hell of a lot better than telling.
8. Narrator introducing themself. When would this be needed anyway?
9. Too perfect characters. If your character can do no wrong they fail to be relatable. Even in fiction people are flawed.
10. Great descriptive character who is irrelevant. You wasted all that time on a character that is not even a key player? Prepare for irritated readers.
Now that you know better, please take heed and do better!
Posted from none other than your favorite writer’s favorite writer Ms Talia