Friday, September 02, 2011
NEW VOICES UPDATE
New Voices is getting closer! Have you registered here yet?
I hope you’ve started writing, but it’s not too late. You have until the 10 October to post your chapter, although the earlier you get it online the more reader feedback you’ll have, which can be hugely useful. It isn’t votes from readers that count, however; the editors will choose the best twenty first chapters to move onto the next round.
Getting the first chapter right is vital.
• The opening tells the reader who the story is about. Who. Not where, or why or what the weather is doing. Romance is character led.
Have you got all the ingredients in place? Here are some questions to help get you started:
• Who are your characters?
• What do they want?
• Why do they want it?
A great opening to a romance raises questions in the reader’s mind; questions that what make her read on. To achieve this you must:
• Start with something happening
• Get the hero and the heroine on the page
• Grab the readers attention
Stories begin with an inciting incident.
• Cinderella meets the disguised prince in the woods.
• A rich bachelor moves into the neighbourhood.
• Bassanio asks his best mate, Antonio, for a loan.
A Lee Childs I read recently started with a drunk picked a fight with Jack Reacher for no reason other than he was feeling belligerent. He gets a broken finger (he poked Jack – how dumb can you get?) and nose for his trouble. Unfortunately he’s the local cop and when he sobers up he comes after him with handcuffs. Reacher knows the best result is going to a beating in police cell and he hitches a lift out of town.
In Tempted By Trouble, Elle answers a ring at the doorbell prepared to fend off a nosy neighbour and instead finds herself fending off not just the bone-meltingly gorgeous Sean McElroy, but the ice cream van he insists is hers.
Everything that happens in these stories stems from that moment.
In all instances the stories begin with action, movement, dialogue.
That first meeting isn’t the end of chapter one, however. In the space of four thousand words the reader will find out a great deal about them.
They will have an idea what they look like – have seen them through the eyes of the other character. Not a descriptive shopping list, please. Leave room for the reader to fill in her own fantasy. Just small details. The shape of a nose. A tiny scar spotted when the characters moves and it’s emphasized by shadow.
They will, from their reaction to this meeting, know a little of their hopes, their fears and the reason why they won’t simply enjoy this unexpected meeting and move off into the happy ever after that is waiting for them.
But first they have to meet. And bless Amazon for allowing you to download the first chapter of eBooks to your reading device – your PC if you don’t have anything else. You can study first chapters by your favourite authors, by authors you’ve heard of but never read, without spending a penny. (I cannot be held responsible if you feel you have to buy the book to read on, but if you do, ask yourself why.)