Create Powerful Book Openings

Your story begins when you have a character (likeable or not), in a setting (interesting or not), with a problem (and it darned well ought to be a doozy). My mentor Algis Budrys said that as a rule of thumb, if a writer doesn’t have that by page two, then the story most likely isn’t sellable. He’s right. The stories that do well in my competition are the ones that grip me from the first page to the last.

Opening Strategies

There are many ways to hook a reader who opens your book–a great cover, a catchy title, luscious descriptions on the back cover, an endearing character portrait, a captivating first line to your novel, and so on. Yet all too soon, much of how well the story grabs a reader will depend upon whether your […]

Powerful Openings

Is your opening powerful? If not, why not? I’ve been judging a huge writing contest this week, and had literally a couple hundred stories that came close to placing as finalists. These stories were good, the writing beautiful, but the story itself was often flawed—and usually in the opening. You see, in a short story, […]

The Heart of Your Story

I was asked to read a screenplay over the weekend. It opened with two minutes during which it explained what a common household device was, showing how it was made in a factory. Then for three more minutes it had characters eating breakfast talking about their cultural heritage. I began to wonder when the story […]