Monday, August 26, 2013

An Itch That Demands to be Scratched, or the Narrative Hook:

Mosquitoes swarm the southern town in which I live, and for some reason, they love me. I've grilled-out with a large group of people and walked away the only person bug-bitten. On an evening walk with my family a few nights ago, a mosquito found the one square inch of skin I hadn't doused with bug spray--my big toe! An incessant itch can be relentless and annoying in real life. 

But applied to writing and the narrative hook? An itch is brilliant.

I once attended a conference where Larry Brooks was keynote speaker. Afterwords, I immediately bought his book Story Engineering.  Here is a small slice of what he has to say about hook:

“What is this wondrous little tease called a hook? Doesn’t matter, as long as it’s visceral, sensual, emotionally resonant, and makes a promise of an intense and rewarding experience ahead.  It’s a simple something that asks a question the reader must now yearn to answer, or it causes an itch that demands to be scratched.”

I love that analogy, an itch that demands to be scratched.  

I'd also add an extra dimension: A writer should never scratch her reader’s back--at least, not completely, and definitely not until the end of the story!

Figuratively never scratching a reader’s back means we  leave them wanting more. We never satiate. Our reader feels the need to continue on our character's journey until that journey reaches its satisfying conclusion. In Manuscript Makeover, Elizabeth Lyon calls this creating movement and suspense, and I'll tackle the "how-to" for that in an upcoming post.

That itch—the narrative hook—is worth its weight in gold when it creates reader empathy.

“When narrative hook alludes to the character wound and need, it reaches into the deepest part of the reader’s heart and sets the frame for the entire novel.”

In other words, the reader is invested, the reader cares. Larry Brooks also says, “the more the reader cares, the more effective the story will be.”

Great advice, right?  Find more in the two phenomenal craft books below.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Writer's Biggest Fault according to Les Edgerton, author of HOOKED

I'm currently reading through Les Edgerton's HOOKED again and came across these gems:

"The single biggest fault of most writers is that they simply don't trust the reader's intelligence to "get" what's going on without providing lengthy backstory."

"Readers don't need to know everything about your characters in order to understand what's going on when the stuff hits the fan. Intelligent readers understand a lot from a tiny bit of information. Give them credit for having functional brains."

I love this, and think this advice applies to more than just backstory. In my current revision of my novel, I'm trying to remind myself to "infer not inform" so my readers will be able to mentally and emotionally participate more in my story and do a lot of the guesswork.That should translate into readers vicariously feeling and experiencing alongside my characters and becoming more invested in the story. And we all want more invested readers, right?

HOOKED is one of the best writing resources out there! My copy is quite mangled. :)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

My sequel...

     So, not too long ago we welcomed the little guy on the right to our family!  Isn't he a cutie? He has such a relaxed and charming personality--we absolutely adore him!  Unfortunately, his round-the-clock feedings and late night shenanigans caused me to put the blog on hold. (Not the writing, though, never the writing!)
     Now that my little guy is starting to hold his own, I'm so enthusiastic about getting active on my blog again and sharing all the writerly things I've been learning and doing since my maternity leave. Thanks so much for hanging in there with me!