I'm almost hesitant to post this blog because I get push back and venom form fellow writers. I was asked to read the first few pages of a novel and I stopped reading. The writer began with a weather forecast and the "gentle flakes of brilliant white snow floating down BLAH BLAH BLAH ---But here you go.
Never begin your story with weather – a writing taboo examined
From author Roz Morris on Nail Your Novel:
So I started reading The Rapture by Liz Jensen, and she begins thus:
That summer, the summer all the rules began to change, June seemed to last for a thousand years. The temperatures were merciless: thirty-eight, thirty-nine, then forty in the shade. It was heat to die in, to go nuts in, or to spawn. Old folk collapsed, dogs were cooked alive in cars, lovers couldn’t keep their hands off each other. The sky pressed down like a furnace lid, shrinking the subsoil, cracking concrete, killing shrubs from the roots up…’
It’s weather. Or is it? I rather liked it, so why does she get away with it?
1 It’s interesting
Weather is usually not interesting. Most of the time in real life, weather is a conversational gambit used by those who wish they had something better to talk about. It’s throat clearing. It’s asking for permission for a conversation. It’s perhaps a plea for the other person to think of something less dull to talk about. In writing, it’s often a hesitant moment as the writer wonders exactly how to introduce everything. ‘Er, there was a blue sky…’
But here, Liz Jensen has made extraordinary weather. It’s hardly even weather, in fact – it’s a dangerous setting, a war with the environment that makes living perilous. It skews the familiar – like that off-kilter opening from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four:
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
The three words you need to delete from your writing regardless of fiction or non-fiction are SO, VERY and SUDDENLY. All they do is slow your readers down and make you look like an amateur writer.
Trust me on this one. "Very" and "suddenly" are useless modifiers. Find better ways to engage your readers. "The horse ran very quickly" could be "The stallion galloped."
The word "so" is a crutch word that offers nothing to your writing. "So, take what ever seat you wish so we can get started." Consider this: "Take whatever seat you wish, we need to get started." Note how the latter commands authority.
As an exercise, rewrite the following sentence and eliminate those three horrible words. Please post your solutions : So Frank ran into the room very quickly and suddenly stopped so fast it was comical.
Thanks and keep writing,
With so many books out in print, it seems impossible difficult to come up with original ideas but everyday hundreds of new books are published. Whenever I come up with ideas, I'm always second-guessing myself, assuming that it's not even worth attempting because it's probably already been written. Do you know of a website where you can type in a brief summary of your idea to see if it has already been written/published? Thanks in advance! - Jonathan Abrahams
I'm not aware of any such websites but it's not necessary to have one. According to Christopher Booker, there are only seven basic plots in the whole world -- plots that are recycled again and again in novels, movies, plays and operas. Those seven plots are: 1.Overcoming the Monster, 2.Rags to Riches, 3.The Quest, 4.Voyage and Return, 5.Rebirth, 6.Comedy and 7.Tragedy.
My analogy is there is only one way to make pancakes but hundreds of recipes, buttermilk being my favorite and chocolate chop being my wife's. So pick a plot and write your own version.
Stop worrying and start writing.
Email me your writing and publishing questions to email@example.com
I have no idea how build a social media network. I know just a few people and none of them want to read my work. Everyone keeps saying social media network and I have no clue as to how to develop that. I feel like I could be a success if I had a fighting chance but that chance seems so elusive with the information I've found.
Thanks for the note. I teach self Publishing courses at Nassau Community College on Long Island. It's 99% formatting and uploading books and 1% social media. One of my student writers recommended this book that helped me get started. I recommend it for you. And like I tell my students: KEEP WRITING.
Social Media for Writers
Maximize the Potential of Your Online Brand!
Over the past decade, social media has transformed from a fad into a necessity for writers. But for the inexperienced author, trying to make sense of--much less master--the available platforms can be a frustrating experience. The variety of social media options alone is dizzying enough: WordPress, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, and more.
That's where this guide comes in. Whether you're just starting to create an audience or looking to refine your online presence, Social Media for Writers will equip you with the essential tools you'll need to succeed. In this book you'll learn how to:
Develop an editorial calendar: schedule consistent, quality content for your blog and work with other authors on guest posts and blog tours
Create an online brand: write content for several different networks, and tie them together to develop an authoritative, trusted voice
Utilize "best practices": learn the ins-and-outs of the online community and how to maximize the potential of each platform
Build a community: make connections and create a fan base to endorse your work
You'll also find appendixes that show you how to set up the major social media platforms and perform basic functions. With all of these strategies, techniques, and applicable information, Social Media for Writers is a comprehensive source for all your social media needs!