Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Go ahead and drop it!

A very good friend of mine, Calista Fox, told me once that the trick to writing a novella is to begin with the house dropping on the witch.  It was some of the best writing advice I ever received and it applies to novels as well as novellas.

It's our natural tendency to want to build, but the purpose of a hook is to grab.  Period.  No matter what the intrigue, no matter what the genre, readers want to be sucked in so deeply that they forget about their laundry. 

I can hear some of you out there saying, "But if The Wizard of Oz had started with the house, we never would have heard the haunting lyrics of Somewhere Over The Rainbow."  Not true.  The kind of compelling back story told in that song has a way of finding a better place when it gets trimmed from the hook.  I know.  I've cut those beautiful melodies from my beginning many times and found a way to weave them in later.

In How to Write a Damn Good Novel, author James N. Frey offers up the advice to start as close to the final inciting incident as possible.  (He also suggest that when in doubt, drop a body from the ceiling, too).  Frey's formula for a page turner is spot on.  So take a look at your favorite books--I'm not talking about the classics--but a recently released novel that is a stand-alone title or first in the series and see if the house is on the witch on page one.

Whether your hook is action-packed, emotional or sexual, just go ahead and drop it.

Erin Quinn is an award winning author who writes haunting romance for the thinking reader.  Her books have been called “riveting,” “brilliantly plotted” and “beautifully written” and have won, placed or showed in the Booksellers Best, WILLA Award for Historical fiction, the Orange Rose, Readers Crown, Golden Quill, Best Books, and Award of Excellence.  Look for Erin’s latest release from Pocket Books, THE FIVE DEATHS OF ROXANNE LOVE, in Fall 2013.  Go to www.erinquinnbooks.com for more information. 


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