Blog banner - notebook - pens- candles

Writing The Perfect Opening Chapter… and what not to do

The first chapter of your novel is important; its where you’ll hook your reader, introduce your protagonist, hint at the antagonist, reveal their goal and introduce the stakes. And that’s not all, writing the first chapter will set up the rest of your novel, linking all of the plot points together.

Are you overwhelmed yet? I know I am. I thought I knew how to write a great first scene. Turns out, I was wrong and in today’s post I’ll tell you why.

We’re constantly told not to open with a clique start: No starting in the middle of a battle scene, waking up from a dream, or with lots of internal monologue while your character does something mundane like washing the dishes.

But we’re also told to show the character in his ordinary life, just before a pivotal point which will start the story and raise the stakes. BUT make sure it’s not the inciting incident, because that comes a little later. What?

Notepad-coffee-flowers-writer

The first chapter should focus on your main character, don’t clutter the scene with secondary characters, unless they play an important role. Eeh?

Make sure you give the reader all the details; age, weather, time of year, appearance, their fears, a goal and, of course introduce the stakes. BUT don’t bog down the scene with exposition. Right?

World build: Know the rules of your magic system and adhere to them. BUT don’t throw too much at the reader and confuse them.

Start with an action scene to hook the reader, something to show the character actively engaging with the world around him, be careful not to write a passive character that gets led alone. BUT remember the reader doesn’t know the character yet, so why should they care if they get killed in battle.

Please, no prologues. Unless it adds to the story, them yes give the reader a prologue.  Ahh, screams at the conflicting advice and throws a fluffy pillow across the room.

Whilst wending my way through the S**t storm of conflicting information, I wrote a great chapter, but I also got it seriously wrong. I did not ask, Why should the reader care about my Main Characters?

You see, I’d used the checklist of Do’s and Don’ts, but completely forgot the power of empathy. We need our readers to become invested in our characters, right from the start.

And there we have it writer friends, there is no one-stop-post to fix your first chapter. It takes persistence, a continuation of building upon your craft, getting honest feedback, and practice, practice, practice.

Never give up, my writer friends. I believe in you.

Fantasy writer Lorraine Ambers blog banner

Please share your experiences of writing that all important first chapter, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

Pinterest Instagram Twitter Facebook

© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Laptop-desk-writing-blogging-Pinterest

The ultimate Pinterest 101 for writers and bloggers

There are many ways to drive your audience to your blog and one of my favourites media sites is Pinterest. In this post we’ll be taking a look at how to set up an account, to maximise your chances of gaining new viewers, and how to set up visually enticing boards so that your followers can visually connect with your novel and get to know you a little better.

If you’re new to building your brand then I recommend reading The Importance of Building a Platform and How to Identify your Target Audience. Setting up solid foundations for your business is a vital first step, but don’t worry if you’ve jumped in feet first, sometimes simply beginning is the hardest part and I commend your enthusiasm.

Here are my four awesome tips to get you started!!

One: Set up a business Pinterest account. It looks the same as a personnel account, but has tools and analytics that will aid you and your blog. When setting up your profile, choose an image, or logo, that you’ll use across your social media and get creative with your bio. Now is the time to sell yourself, not your books. Tell your readers a little bit about you, your interests and what you write about. Put some thought into your profile using key words that correlate to you. Mine always featuresfantasy-romance writer. Any content you create here can be echoed through all social media platforms to maintain a cohesive brand.

Inspiration for my second novel Mischief and Mayhem

Two: Pin boards: Use boards for historical research, to identify your characters, or help define scenes for your worldbuilding. A word to the wise, if it’s harmful to your brand, or is personal and you don’t wish to share certain boards, keep it locked from public view. Name each board with titles that use keyword to describe what’s contained within. Add boards that will direct the right audience to your profile, so for authors you could add a library board and fill it with books within your genre. Or, maybe have a board with your dream office space.

Create a unique writing den.

Three: Verify your websites ULR in settings. This took me a few tries and a couple of YouTube videos. But have faith, if I can master technology, so can  you. By linking your website/ blog to Pinterest, it creates a PIN symbol on all of your images, enabling you to link your posts to your Pinterest boards. Don’t forget to install a Pin it button to your blog, this is a vital way for you to gain more followers, readers may choose to add your content to their boards, showing your work to a new audience.

Captivating worldbuilding ideas

Four: Use great images in your blog. A picture says a thousand words, or so I’m told. Pixabay, Pexels and Unsplash are fantastic sites that offer free stock images, that have no attributes or royalties attached. Don’t forget to edit each image when you add it to your blog, in the alt description box, use keywords to help new audience members find your content. Those keywords are used as the primary function of Pinterest, which runs as a search engine using those keywords. So it’s time to get savvy with SEO.

Finally learn SEO 😉

Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

Do you use Pinterest? Is it one of your favourite media sites? Perhaps you have another tip to share, don’t be shy, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

Pinterest    Instagram    Twitter    Facebook

© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.
Desk-coffee-pen-paper-blog banner

How to Write Rich and Vivid Settings

The setting of your novel is just as important as character development and dialogue. It needs to accurately reflect the period or define the world-building making it as vibrating and sensory as possible. It’s much more than painting a picture, its a fine art of evoking the five senses to bring the story alive, immersing the reader into the world you’ve created.

Coffee-Tree-pen-paper-blog banner-writing tips

Whilst it’s tempting to fill your pages with purple prose and lengthy descriptions, be mindful that those approaches tend to bog a story down. Foreshadowing is a great tool that allows the writer to drip feed upcoming events; a carefully placed dagger might elude to a murder or a broken lock might reveal how a derelict house is broken into. However, relevance is vital, if that dagger isn’t going to be used to drive the plot forward don’t use it for the sake of embellishing a scene. Aside from the odd red herring to mislead your reader, everything should have a purpose, even if it is only to show how affluent your character is or to reveal aspects of their personality.

To help develop the story and anchor the reader, include details such as the time of day, weather, place, or season. For example: An apple tree in early bloom would hint at spring. Some of the specifics could be done through character description and clothing, but others can be hinted at while your character moves through the setting. Instead show the streetlamps flaring to life as the sun dips below the high-rise buildings. Perhaps car lights reflect off of the slick tarmac to reveal a rainy night.

Another great writing technique is to add symbolism, we see symbols every day and take them for granted: A heart means love. Red signals passion or anger. And even names and places can have a meaning behind them. We can go further using similes, such as, as brave as a lion. Or by using metaphors: Imagine a character returning home to take care of an elderly parent, to find their childhood farm in a run-down dilapidated condition, much like the health of their loved one.

Use the landscape or worldbuilding as an obstacle for your character to overcome. An anxious character might fear large cities full of people. What would happen if he had to travel to a big city to meet with his dream agent? OK, so that’s one of my potential obstacles, but you can start to understand how facing that fear would be a great challenge.

Infographic-writing-tips

Lastly, let’s not forget the advantages the five senses play when crafting a novel. They can be used to foreshadow, show the passing of time, reveal landscapes that build plot and play with symbolism. But never underestimate the importance of evoking emotions in your readers, all of which can be done by arousing the five senses as the character’s move through the story.

 

Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

What technique do you need to work on? And which is your preferred method of evoking emotions in your reader? Please comment, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time, Much Love.

Pinterest    Instagram    Twitter    Facebook

© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.
pexels-notebook-make-it-happen

3 Ways to Keep Track of Your Stories

I’m currently tying up loose ends in my two novels before I continue writing the third novel in the Shadow Knight Series. After being away from my second WIP – Mischief and Mayhem to tighten up the premise of the first novel – Secrets and Shadows, I’ve come across a problem.

I’m struggling to remember tiny details about the different realms. And as the series develops not only is the world-building expanding, but changes continuously evolve.

This is also true for my characters. Remembering eye and hair colour is easy enough. And I’m confident in remembering my MC traits and personality types. The trouble lies with minor characters. Plus changes in hairstyles and costumes in particular scenes are starting to become problematic.


So today I’m considering different methods to store all the relevant details for your stories.

pexels- ideas, pin-board, character files, novels, writing

  1. My good friend and creative writing tutor Judith Barrow is an advocate for the Pin-board Method. Above her desk, directly in line of sight, Judith uses notes and images to mind map her novels. A quick glance forward and all the information is to hand. Dates, Places and characters… whatever information deemed necessary.

book pen artist writer author Lorraine Ambers fantasy romance novel YA

  1. Some of us aren’t lucky enough to have a cosy desk. So, for the more technological-minded writers they can use apps compatible with their computer or tablet. Similar to the Pin-board Method, except all the information can be stored in one easy accessible space. Great if you’re a writer on the go, maybe you write in a cafe or at your work during your lunch break. Carrying notebooks and files everywhere is impractical and a nuisance. Why not try one of the following?

OneNote – Notepad Classic – Code Writer – Sticky Notes – Evernote Touch

maps-desk-notes writing novel ideas

3. My current method, The File System. Many authors love printable lists or a one page character summary. Where they can jot down character attributes, personality traits, fears, goals and flaws.

And they’re great to get the ball rolling, but I needed something a little more intricate. So I’ve been compiling information about individual characters. Copying descriptions and quirks from my novels and pasting them onto a document. These are then printed off and filed. So the next time I need to jog my memory about a setting or character, Instead of trawling through my novels using the find feature, I can flip open the relevant section of my folder and have instant access.

I’ve also discovered that by having bullet-point sections listing the descriptions, I can maintain continuity and eliminate plot holes.


Which of the three methods do you prefer? Or do you have another method? If so, why don’t you share it with me? You know I love to hear from you.

Until next time, Much Love my people.

Author Lorraine Ambers - YA fantasy romance writer

Pinterest    Instagram    Twitter    Facebook

© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.