Thursday, March 24, 2011
Welcome to day four of M.E. Finke’s 6-day NWFCC March Author Showcase tour and join Ms. Finke as she discusses the all important HOOK of a story.
Think about what HOOKS you on a story. Then compare it with what I think makes a great story. I want to write them. You want to read them.
#1 – Get the action going on the first page.
#2 – Don’t waffle on. Waffles are fine for breakfast – not for writing.
#3 – Create characters a kid will root for and identify with – the good, the bad and the ugly!
#4 – Powerful and active verbs are a writer’s best friend. Use your Thesaurus to dig them out.
#5 – Analogies only work when they fit the time, the character and the setting.
#6 – Tight writing is the name of the game mates - tight as your granny’s new girdle, mates.
#7 - Keep a tight focus on your plot. Sidetracks that lead nowhere slow the pace.
#8 – A few short and punchy sentences UP the tension. Long rambling ones KILL tension.
#9 – Find a good critique group. Pick the brains of the advanced members. Their feedback and support will prove helpful.
#10 - Learn to network among other writers. Join online writing lists and groups that write for the same age as yourself.
I write and tweak as I go along. I have to watch out for the word GREAT. It pops up everywhere. Do you have an overused word that needs an exterminator? I love to track down super powerful verbs that make a scene jump off the page.
Getting carried away with a descriptive passage is one of my faults. I have to consider it for a while, and then decide if it is there because it strengthens the story, or just because I fell in love with my own words.
Self-editing is one of the hardest tasks a writer can tackle. We are so close to the characters, and involved with the plot, that weaknesses and side tracks are often entirely missed. This is where a critique group is a wonderful asset. I rely on my group to jump on my “waffles,” point out plot weaknesses and give me an overall opinion – thumbs UP or thumbs DOWN.
Rewriting and then putting it aside for a few weeks (months) is an excellent way to discover obvious problems, and weaknesses you missed when working on it every day. I recommend this to all my clients. The answer to that nagging feeling that something didn’t quite jell will jump out at you the moment you reread those pages with fresh eyes.
I think the biggest problem I see in beginner’s manuscripts is overwriting. Tight writing doesn’t have to be stilted. Let it flow. However, make sure the story flows in the right direction and at a good pace. Practice and experience will help you master tight writing, good pace and focus. Until then, there’s always that critique group to point out the error of your writing ways.
Follow Day 5 of Ms. Finke's tour tomorrow at www.nancyisanders.wordpress.com. Leave a comment and your name will automatically be entered to win a Three Angels Gourmet Co mug and a package of Divine Dill Dip Mix - at the end of the month, provided by the National Writing for Children Center.
Posted by Mayra Calvani at 12:56 PM