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LightShadow
05-13-2006, 07:07 AM
Everyone knows that a good writer opens with a compelling hook, and each sentence after that is another hook. Each paragraph must be designed to keep the reader reading. The novel must open raising questions in the reader's mind, making him or her concerned for the protagonist. Open up into action. A lot of description or background information will just bog the story down. Be careful also to make certain that you don't introduce too many characters at the beginning of your story. People have trouble remembering names in real life, and it is not much different when they read. Allow the reader to keep track of the story and your protagonist without having to worry about remembering too many people. In regards to characters that you do introduce, give them a uniqueness. Use a physical mark, or device like glasses, or a scar. Use a unique attitude to tendency. Set each of them apart so that when the reader comes across them again in the story it's okay that they don't remember their name, because they remember the gold rimmed glasses, or bubbly personality, or purple hair.

Your protagonist should be not only believable, but must be motivated to progress through the story. His or her goals and actions must be apparent. Traits that the protagonist possesses should assist him or her in obtaining the goal, prize, or whatever, and make the character bigger than life. The protagonist never gives up, always finding a way around the obstacles you throw at him or her. The protagonist must also be flawed in some way. The flaw ought to drag him or her down, and should be conquered (or at least recognized) by the end of the story.

Conflict is plot. The conflict must incite a chain of events, that coupled with the character's actions, makes more events happen which in turn makes more things happen. Conflict should appear on every page. The characters must find this tension with each other, themselves, and their environment. Use internal conflict as well as external. Remember: Things must always get worse.

Scenes must be specific (in time and space) and advance the plot, as well as throw obstacles at the characters. Everything should be involved, including attitudes, norms of the location, weather, lighting, dialect, etc. Then, as things get better, make the protagonist stumble (possibly as a result of scenery) in a way that also pulls him or her farther away from his or her goal. Always make the problems worse, and then allow your protagonist think about how to deal with the latest obstacle.

Readers enjoy it when a character has no way out, but instead of some cheap ploy to get them out, they think of a way out that even the reader didn't think of, but feels that they should have. This goes back to using the traits that you have bestowed upon your protagonist.

Good dialogue is not everyday dialogue, but it isn't fake or forced either. Good dialogue is heightened, embedded with the conflict that your have injected. Emotions should be evident in the dialogue, without ever actually being told. Let the reader discover these things between the lines.

Ensure that the reader can see, hear, smell, feel and taste the story as it unfolds. Sensory details enlivens the story, making it real to the reader. Do not include those items that does not further the story, however. Omit unnecessary words, phrases, and items. If something does not enable the plot to progress, delete it.

You are a storyteller first. Don't use gimmicks to turn off the reader or shock them. Just tell the story, and allow the readers imagination to play a part in the imaginary world that you have created.

And remember: A professional is an amateur who didn't quit.