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Get to the core of the story quickly…

I had occasion, recently, to look over a few chapters of an unpublished book. After reading the first two chapters, I still was not sure where the story was going. Some interesting foreshadowing had been included. We had been introduced to a rich palette of characters. The story was told from a single character’s point of view. But, something was missing. No clear direction had appeared for the story to go. The first chapter was essentially backstory. It was interesting, but it gave background. No story was really started there.

The first chapter was essentially backstory. It was interesting, but it gave background. No story was really started there.

The second chapter was in a different setting from the first and a host of new characters arrived on the scene, which is not always bad if their presence somehow invokes or gets the story rolling. That did not happen.

In conversations with the author, I found out that the main story line was going to involve one of the main characters. It was not, however, the character whose POV was being presented in the first two chapters. It was another one.

It seems like the first two chapters suffered from a personality disorder.

The main crux of the story (according to the synopsis provided) was not to come until much later in the book.

Readers want to know the core of the story quickly. Unless they are drawn in from the beginning, they will put your book down. That action results in bad reviews if you get any reviews at all.

Modern readers want to be grabbed by the lapels in the first chapter and convinced that this book is worth reading. They want to be motivated to continue reading. Each page needs to propel them to the next. Chapter endings need to shout out, “Read the next chapter to find out what happens next!”

Don’t fall so much in love with your characters and your settings that you forget to start the story right away. That is what the readers are looking for, they can fall in love with the characters and the settings along the course of the book. Hook them first. Show them around later.

Today’s quick and easy Odd Sock writing tip.

A free service that you can use to do a quick check on your writing is Grammarly. Download the free add-on for your browser and it will always be there in the background anytime you are writing on-line. It is not foolproof and it is not right all the time. But, it does check a lot of common errors including misspelled words and punctuation errors.

I use it as an additional backup check for my proofreading and editing. It checks all my Facebook and Twitter posts. It’s even running right now as I write this and caught a few typos from my fumble-fingered hands.

There is also a Word add-on for those who subscribe to the service and online checker that will allow you to cut and paste text from your word processor into an on-line Grammarly window to check for errors.

It will not make you a better writer. But, properly used, it can keep you from making your embarrassing errors public.

And, for people like me, that is a very good thing. 😀