Is your character obsessed with something? No? Maybe he/she should be. That’s what I’m starting to think about regarding character development. Are you confused? I’m sorry, let me clarify.
I’m on my third version of the first chapter right now and I think I finally figured out how to make the stupid thing work. Previously I had tried introducing my protagonist and a few interesting characters before starting into the main plot. Here’s the problem: my goal was the plot. Let me say that again so it has a chance to sink in: my goal was the plot.
That may not sound like a problem, but I think I’ve made a realization about writing novels. The beginning isn’t about plot. It’s all about character. I mean, honestly, who cares about dragons, fairies, and explosions if the POV you’re reading is boring.
So what was my solution to said problem? I gave my protagonist a passion. The first chapter is all about basketball, and why not? I love basketball and so I decided to infuse it into my novel. The result is a more strongly written character who has a real relationship with her little sister who previously had no personality other than ditzy. Now, she cares about her older sister and respects how hard she works (aside from being a high school basketball star, she takes care of her sister in a parental way as well since the parents are kind of absent). Is the plot related to basketball? Not at all. In fact, the genre is paranormal romance/urban fantasy, but again, who cares? It’s engaging and develops the characters that I want my readers to care about.
Are you tired of all the bold letters yet? 🙂
Yep, I’m back! Permanently? Maybe… Here’s the scoop: I just got back from vacation with my family recently. That was fun. I’ve been working on a new project (which took me forever to think up) and it’s going well except for one thing: I CAN’T FIGURE OUT HOW TO END THE DAMN FIRST CHAPTER!!! RAWR! This led me to the idea of blogging about first chapters….well that and a friend of mine started up a blog and I thought to myself, “Oh yeah….that blogging thing…that’s pretty cool” I’ll give the details on where to find her blog at the end of this post. Okay, back on topic.
What makes a good first chapter? Well I can tell you from my reading experiences that there are certain things I expect to get out of a first chapter, things that one might say makes a first chapter GOOD…….perhaps we should look at those…
- Character…as in living and breathing. I want to have some sort of reason to give a damn about the people in the pages. I don’t need to know a lot about them, but I certainly should know SOMETHING about them; something that makes me CARE ABOUT THEM.
- Hook…as in a small bit of mystery that interests me. I need questions that make me turn pages in order to get answers. Characters are the first step, but it’s not enough to just read about characters that I care about. I care about my brother, but I wouldn’t want to read a book about his daily life, because that wouldn’t be INTERESTING. In other words, the circumstances need to MATTER.
- Flow…as in smooth connectivity of words, sentences, and paragraphs. You can have the most interesting character in the world and throw them into the most interesting circumstances ever thought of, but if the writing is choppy and messy, IT MEANS NOTHING. It sounds harsh, but it’s true. Now this isn’t to say that it needs to be complicated. In fact, simpler is usually better; however, it should read clearly and concisely…bonus points if it sounds pretty. 😉
- Image…as in pictures that fill my head. Remember that we have FIVE SENSES. I don’t want to be limited to seeing worlds; I want to hear them, feel them, smell them, and even taste them. This is perhaps one of the trickiest things to nail, because it shouldn’t hit you over the head. It should be beautifully painted in the background through subtle diction. No one wants to slog through paragraphs of world building filled with EVIL PURPLE PROSE. If you don’t know what purple prose is, you should Google it….and then avoid it…So that’s my list of things to establish in a first chapter….and then continue to utilize through the rest of story hopefully.
My fun-loving blogger friend who I mentioned earlier is named Britt, and THIS IS HER BLOG THAT YOU SHOULD TOTALLY CHECK OUT!
Well, that’s all for now. Until next time….wait….where was I going with this sentence….eh oh well.
Hey everyone. It’s been a very long time since I wrote a legitimate post and I apologize for that. Part of that is due to a much needed break after nanowrimo, but most of it is probably caused by an inherent laziness that all artists possess 😀
In the time since I last posted regularly, I’ve been working my part time job at Barnes and Noble, starting some small steps towards revising “Azlara”, my nano project, and fantasizing about a new shiny
project. Other than those things, I’ve been relaxing and enjoying holiday time with my family as I prepare for a spring semester of classes. Keep an eye out for some short works in the future…. hopefully near future 😛
And I am officially a winner! 🙂
I will be the first to admit that a lot of my anxiousness and jitters are probably caused more often than not, by the large amounts of coffee and espresso that I consume; however, NaNo starts the day after tomorrow and that’s slightly scary. A while back, I started outlining a plot and figuring out some characters, but then I got stuck. Now I’m just hoping that my wonderful pantsing abilities will allow me to move the story forward all month long. In all seriousness, I do feel like I have a pretty solid understanding of my protagonist and I think that it will be enough to tell a 50,000 word story, whether the words come form me or from her. 😉
Last Wednesday I went in to Barnes and Noble for a job interview and I’m happy to announce that today I will be attending orientation from one to three in the afternoon. I applied for a cashier position of some sort, but it sounds as though I’ll be working in the café. I suppose I won’t really know for sure where they’re placing me until after today, but it should be an interesting experience either way. The last job I held for an extended period of time was my first job and I hated it. It drained me of energy and motivation every day that I worked. Barnes and Noble is a favorite place of mine and I used to go there all the time with my friends, so hopefully this will be a much better experience. I’ve heard great things online from previous employees and I look forward to it.
On the writing side of things, I’m currently sitting at Starbucks writing a little bit in “Defending Ari”, as well as brainstorming more for my NaNo project, which I’m really excited to start. November can’t come fast enough.
I’ll leave things at that and get back to it. Have a good day, everyone!
As the title suggests, today’s blog is just a small tidbit of a post to fill you in on my life so you don’t think I died. I’ve been building up a prologue for my current project, “Defending Ari”. It’s a YA Science Fantasy novel, and along with working little bits on that, I’ve been trying to plot my NaNoWriMo project for November. I don’t want to share any of that right now in case it changes between now and then; also for fear of jinxing myself or something to that degree… 🙂
Catch ya’ll later. I’m going to a writing group tonight and then I’ll catch what I can of the presidential debate tonight.