don't be shy -- there's a link at the bottom of this !<br><br> e-mail that will put you out of your misery. ! !<br><br> If you need to change your e-mail address, there's a ! different link at the bottom to help you do that. !<br><br> ! If you missed a back issue, remember that all previous ! issues are archived on my web site at: !<br><br> http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com/ezine ! ! !<br><br> What's in this issue: ! ! The successful novelist needs good organization, good !<br><br> craft, and good marketing. In this issue, we'll talk ! about each of these in turn.<br><br> ! ! !<br><br> * Have you ever sat watching your computer while it ! seemed to be frozen in thought? Ever wondered what it !<br><br> was doing while the seconds ticked by? Find out, in my ! article, "Does Multitasking Make You Stupid?" !<br><br> ! * Characters are supposed to be like real people, but ! in one respect, they need to be unlike most people.<br><br> Can ! you guess what that is? I reveal all in "The Path of !<br><br> Least Resistance." ! ! * Many writers believe that your best marketing tool is !<br><br> strong writing. If that's true, then your first chapter ! is absolutely critical to your marketing plan.<br><br> This ! month, I'll analyze two brilliant first chapters by ! published novelists to see what makes them shine in "A !<br><br> Killer First Chapter." ! ! Are you reading my blog?<br><br> Join the fun here: ! http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com/blog ! !<br><br> _______________________________________________________ ! _______________________________________________________ ! !<br><br> ! 2) Organizing: Does Multitasking Make You Stupid? !<br><br> ! ! Computers are faster and smarter and more efficient !<br><br> than ever. They run at gigahertz speeds, using ! gigabytes of memory, giving you giga power to get !<br><br> things done. ! !<br><br> Even so, once in a while, most machines seem to freeze ! for several seconds, stuck in some mysterious inner ! world that you know nothing about.<br><br> ! ! If they're so fast and so smart, why should they ever !<br><br> freeze like that? ! !<br><br> There are several reasons, but one common reason is ! that your computer is multitasking -- it's doing ! several things at once, and it's gotten its scheduling !<br><br> out of whack. It's forgotten to get back to you, at ! least for a while.<br><br> ! ! Multitasking is usually a wonderful thing, especially !<br><br> on modern machines with multiple brains. A ! well-programmed computer with several CPUs can work !<br><br> dramatically faster than a computer with only one, all ! other things being equal. !<br><br> ! The problem is that it's tricky to take account of all ! possibilities.<br><br> Once in a while, your computer gets ! itself tied in a knot and it zones out on you, even ! with multiple brains.<br><br> Multitasking occasionally makes ! your computer stupid. !<br><br> ! It's dangerous to make a direct analogy between ! computers and human brains, because they really aren't !<br><br> the same thing. But it does appear that multitasking ! makes us stupid too.<br><br> ! ! Let's be clear about one thing -- the human brain is a !<br><br> fantastic computing device, capable of doing enormously ! complex calculations, especially in image-processing ! and in intuitive situations where logic isn't enough.<br><br> ! So when I use the word "stupid" here, I mean it in a ! relative sense.<br><br> ! ! Multitasking makes us less sharp than we would be if we !<br><br> were focusing on only one thing. ! !<br><br> Most times, this doesn't matter. Most people most days ! can walk and chew gum at the same time, and talk on the !<br><br> phone and consume oxygen and watch the ducks build ! snowmen. !<br><br> ! But notice one thing -- of the five things I just ! listed, all but talking on the phone are pretty !<br><br> automatic and don't require conscious thought. You can ! walk without thinking about it.<br><br> Ditto for chewing gum. ! Ditto oxygen.<br><br> Ditto the ducks -- unless they really are ! building snowmen. If that's the case, as soon as your !<br><br> consciousness takes note of the snowmen, the phone ! discussion is going to shift direction radically. !<br><br> ! And that's the point. Once one of your tasks percolates !<br><br> up to the conscious level, you lose the ability to ! focus on any of the others. !<br><br> ! If you Google the phrase, "Does multitasking make you ! stupid," you'll find an amusing array of articles to !<br><br> choose from. (It's best to read these one at a time.) ! Here are some of the things you'll learn: !<br><br> ! * When you're trying to switch rapidly between several ! tasks that take conscious thought, you lose efficiency.<br><br> ! A lot of efficiency -- as much as 30% to 50%. !<br><br> ! * Some studies show that when you're focusing on a task ! that takes a lot of concentration, an interruption that !<br><br> breaks your focus can cost you about 20 minutes of lost ! focus. This means that if you get interrupted more !<br><br> often than every 20 minutes, you might NEVER actually ! get into a deeply focused, productive state. !<br><br> ! * Multitasking can actually lower your performance on ! IQ tests -- by about 10 points.<br><br> Smoking a joint only ! costs you 4 points. So if you have to choose between !<br><br> multitasking and marijuana, the choice should be clear, ! although your boss and your government probably see ! things differently.<br><br> Bosses and governments love ! multitasking. !<br><br> ! When people say that "multitasking makes you stupid," ! all of the above is what they mean.<br><br> ! ! So what's a busy writer to do?<br><br> You can't shut off the ! world, can you? !<br><br> ! No, but you can shut off some parts of the world. If !<br><br> you're doing something that takes concentration (such ! as writing fiction), you can take a few steps to make ! yourself more productive for a well-defined period of !<br><br> time while you focus: ! ! * Unplug the phone or disable it or feed it to the dog.<br><br> ! Do what it takes. !<br><br> ! * Close your e-mail program or at least disable it from ! doing those useless automatic checks every five !<br><br> minutes. The world is not going to end if you don't get ! e-mails instantly.<br><br> ! ! * Shut down all instant-messaging, texting, or anything !<br><br> else that can interrupt you. ! !<br><br> * Get a clock with a timer and set it for 50 minutes of ! uninterrupted writing. Then write.<br><br> ! ! You can do a lot in 50 minutes of quality, productive, !<br><br> uninterrupted, non-multitasking time. An awful lot. !<br><br> ! Many writers find that they write more productively ! when they're listening to music.<br><br> Some writers can't ! listen to vocal music but they thrive on instrumental ! music.<br><br> I'm the opposite -- instrumental music bores me ! into a potato-like state, but I can write 1000 words ! per hour with the right kind of vocal music.<br><br> ! ! Oddly enough, certain European heavy metal groups work !<br><br> best for me. I have no idea why, but it's a fact that ! just about any song by Nightwish or Hammerfall or !<br><br> Dragonforce makes me more productive. I discovered them ! on Pandora.com, a music streaming web site which is !<br><br> smart enough to learn what kind of music you like and ! bring you more of it. !<br><br> ! If music gets you rolling, then find out what works ! best and use that.<br><br> Load up your favorite music on your ! computer, or log into Pandora.com, or just turn on the ! radio, and then pour out the words.<br><br> ! ! Writers often ask me what my secret is for being so !<br><br> productive. If I have a secret, it's this: ! !<br><br> Singletasking makes you smart. ! !<br><br> ! _______________________________________________________ ! _______________________________________________________ !<br><br> ! ! 3) Creating: The Path of Least Resistance !<br><br> ! ! I've been reading a book on creativity lately, THE PATH !<br><br> OF LEAST RESISTANCE, by Robert Fritz. He's a musician ! who teaches people how to be creative and how to live !<br><br> life creatively. ! !<br><br> Like everybody else who ever wrote a book, Fritz is ! admired by some people (just read his many five-star ! Amazon reviews to see what I mean) and is not admired !<br><br> by others (he gets a couple of one-star reviews). ! !<br><br> The book is a self-help book and tends to have plenty ! of theory and anecdotal evidence, but it's not the sort ! of book that gets into empirical testing, so I don't !<br><br> know what psychologists and cognitive scientists would ! say about his ideas. !<br><br> ! Speaking as a novelist though, I rather like what he ! has to say about how people can live their life !<br><br> creatively, because it highlights what makes a good ! character good in fiction. !<br><br> ! Fritz says that most people most of the time do what is ! easiest for them.<br><br> (Hence the title -- people usually ! follow the "path of least resistance" in getting ! through life.) !<br><br> ! Unfortunately, according to Fritz, most people are ! trapped by their circumstances.<br><br> They wind up being ! either "responsive" or "reactive." ! !<br><br> In his terminology, "responsive" means that they follow ! the rules and let circumstances grind them down. !<br><br> "Reactive" means that they break the rules and let ! circumstances grind them down. Either way, people in !<br><br> "reactive-responsive mode" are letting circumstances ! run and ruin their life. !<br><br> ! Creative people, on the other hand, live above ! circumstances.<br><br> Yes, of course circumstances still ! affect them, but according to Fritz, creative people ! don't get ground down because they follow a simple !<br><br> strategy. At the risk of being simple-minded, I'll boil ! it down to these steps: !<br><br> ! * Creative people make a decision about what they want ! to achieve !<br><br> * Creative people realistically assess where they are ! right now ! * Creative people strategically plan how to get there !<br><br> from here ! * Creative people take action to get what they want ! !<br><br> Fritz says that creative people, just like ! "reactive-responsive" people, follow the path of least ! resistance.<br><br> But because creative people are guided ! primarily by their vision, rather than reacting or ! responding to circumstances, their path of least !<br><br> resistance leads them to achieve their vision. ! !<br><br> You may think that is just starry-eyed nonsense or you ! make think that is brilliant good thinking. No matter.<br><br> ! The important thing, as a fiction writer, is to ! recognize that strong characters follow exactly those !<br><br> steps in a story. ! !<br><br> I have a theory that every good model of fiction ! writing has to pass the "Star Wars test." If the model ! works for the movie Star Wars, then it has a chance to !<br><br> be right. If it doesn't work for Star Wars, then it's ! almost certainly wrong.<br><br> ! ! Let's apply the Star Wars test to see if good !<br><br> characters are like the creative people Fritz is ! describing. !<br><br> ! In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker is trapped in ! circumstances that he doesn't much like but which he !<br><br> seems powerless to break out of. He wants to go off to ! military school and become a great pilot like his !<br><br> Daddy. But he can't, because his uncle needs him on the ! farm.<br><br> Luke tries to follow the rules and do what uncle ! wants, but it frustrates him. !<br><br> ! Then along come a couple of droids in Luke's life. One !<br><br> of them goes wandering off and Luke has to break the ! rules to get it back -- he goes zooming off searching ! for the droid without telling his uncle.<br><br> ! ! Bad things happen.<br><br> Luke gets attacked. He meets a loony ! old man who claims to have known Luke's daddy.<br><br> The old ! guy urges him to leave the planet and deliver the droid ! with its plans for the Death Star to Princess Leia's !<br><br> people. It's decision time, and Luke is still trapped ! in reactive-responsive mode and he can't decide.<br><br> ! Instead, he dithers. He goes back to the farm.<br><br> There he ! finds his uncle and aunt dead -- killed by Storm ! Troopers.<br><br> ! ! At this point, Luke breaks free of reactive-responsive !<br><br> mode and does something that creative people do -- he ! makes a decision. Luke decides to leave the planet, !<br><br> find Princess Leia, and join the Rebellion. That's Step ! 1 in Robert Fritz's schema for being creative: Decide !<br><br> what it is that you want most in life. ! !<br><br> Notice that it's here that the movie becomes a story. ! Now Luke has a goal.<br><br> Until this point, all he had was ! vague desires. But now he's made a decision to pursue !<br><br> those desires to some definite goal. ! !<br><br> Also notice that Luke doesn't really angst much about ! whether the goal is possible or not. Frankly, it seems !<br><br> pretty crazy to go zooming across the galaxy in hopes ! of taking down the Emperor. But creative people don't !<br><br> get all fussed about whether their goal is possible. ! They decide what they want and they make a definite !<br><br> decision to get it. ! !<br><br> In the next step (which is pretty short) Luke and old ! man Kenobi take a look at where they are. They're on !<br><br> the desert planet Tatooine with no money and no ! transportation. That's a long way from where they want !<br><br> to be. They don't deny that. People in denial are apt !<br><br> to make plans that won't work because they take no ! account of the circumstances. !<br><br> ! I think this is an extremely important point, whether ! you're trying to live your life or plan your novel.<br><br> ! Your ultimate goal may be "impossible" and that's OK. !<br><br> But your immediate goal absolutely MUST be possible, ! and therefore it has to be well-grounded in reality. !<br><br> You can't get from here to there until you've figured ! out what "here" is and what "there" is. You just can't.<br><br> ! ! So Luke and Kenobi have followed Step 2 on the road to !<br><br> living creatively. But they don't stop there. They move !<br><br> on to Step 3: making a plan. It's a long-shot plan, and ! they don't know for sure it'll work, but it's !<br><br> plausible. They decide to sell Luke's vehicle and buy ! passage to Princess Leia's home planet.<br><br> They'll deliver ! the droid to Leia's people and then hook up with the ! Rebellion.<br><br> Somehow. ! !<br><br> That's not a bad plan. It has a chance of working. It !<br><br> doesn't spell out the whole journey, but it moves them ! closer to their ultimate goal. It's probably the best !<br><br> plan they could make, given where they are right now. ! !<br><br> Now Luke and Kenobi do the one critical thing that all ! winners everywhere do. They take action.<br><br> They're not ! guaranteed to win if they take action. There's a good !<br><br> chance that they'll wind up as roasted chunks of meat ! floating in deep space. !<br><br> ! But they have no chance of reaching their goal if they ! don't take action.<br><br> If you're a logician, you'll note ! that taking action is "necessary but not sufficient." ! !<br><br> That's Step 4 on the road to being creative -- taking ! action. !<br><br> ! All of this happens in the first third of the story. !<br><br> The rest of the story can happen ONLY because this ! first third has all four of those crucial steps: Luke ! makes a decision to pursue a goal, he assesses his !<br><br> current position, he makes a plan, and then he takes ! action. If you remove ANY of those steps, the story !<br><br> collapses. ! !<br><br> Now the rest of the story unfolds as it must. Luke and ! Kenobi pursue their quest, always following the path of !<br><br> least resistance. Circumstances change and they ! opportunistically react or respond to those new !<br><br> circumstances in ways that lead them closer to their ! ultimate goal. !<br><br> ! That's the key point: Because they know what they want, ! circumstances don't block them.<br><br> Instead, circumstance ! just reroute them as they follow the changing path of ! least resistance toward their goal.<br><br> Because they know ! what they want, circumstances only bend them, not bind ! them.<br><br> ! ! There are only two ways for the story to end.<br><br> Either ! Luke reaches his goal, or he dies trying. That's what !<br><br> makes the story of Star Wars work. ! !<br><br> Whether you do or don't think THE PATH OF LEAST ! RESISTANCE is a good way to live your own life, I ! suggest that it's the only way for your characters to !<br><br> live theirs. ! !<br><br> Who knew a self-help book could be so . . .<br><br> helpful? ! !<br><br> For more info on THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE, you can ! read all about it on Amazon: ! http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com/blinks/fritz/path.php !<br><br> ! ! _______________________________________________________ !<br><br> _______________________________________________________ ! ! !<br><br> 4) Marketing: A Killer First Chapter ! ! !<br><br> Some of my author friends loathe and despise the word ! "marketing." It's common for them to say, "The best ! marketing is good writing." !<br><br> ! I agree with them, sort of. I'm not certain that good !<br><br> writing is the VERY BEST marketing a writer can do, but ! I'm confident that good writing is PRETTY GOOD ! marketing.<br><br> ! ! In the weird world of marketing, "pretty good" can be !<br><br> good enough, because nobody knows what the heck they're ! doing in marketing anyway. Many of the "great" !<br><br> marketers seem to be people who were successful once on ! one project for reasons they don't understand, and keep ! doing that ever after on other projects.<br><br> ! ! This month I'd like to talk about one aspect of good !<br><br> writing that certainly is good marketing -- writing a ! killer first chapter. !<br><br> ! Some readers will reject a book by its cover, and ! there's not a thing you can do about that.<br><br> The cover is ! your publisher's job. If they create a bad cover, !<br><br> you're at a major disadvantage. ! !<br><br> But not all readers are like that. If they like the ! title, or if they hear good things about your book, !<br><br> many readers will ignore even a dreadful cover and take ! a look at the first chapter. !<br><br> ! That's YOUR responsibility. You can blame the publisher !<br><br> for the cover, but it's lame to blame them for your ! first chapter. !<br><br> ! A good first chapter does four things well: ! !<br><br> * It makes a contract with the reader ! * It sets a hook in the first sentence ! * It sets a second hook near the end of the first page !<br><br> * It sets a third hook at the end of the chapter ! ! Let's talk about each of those in turn, because they're !<br><br> all critical. ! !<br><br> First of all, what's a "contract with the reader?" ! ! That's simple.<br><br> Your book is going to have a certain ! tone, pacing, style, and genre. Your first chapter !<br><br> should make clear to your reader what that tone, ! pacing, style, and genre is going to be. Your first !<br><br> chapter is a promise: The rest of the book will be like ! this one. !<br><br> ! Imagine you read the first chapter of a book that has ! one long, adrenaline-laced car chase that ends with the !<br><br> bad guys driving off a cliff, falling 300 feet, and ! exploding in flames while the good guy drives off in ! his Maserati with his arm around a beautiful woman.<br><br> ! ! If you buy the book hoping for more fast cars and !<br><br> faster women, wouldn't you be outraged to find that the ! rest of the book is a slow small-town romance set in ! Milford?<br><br> ! ! Yes, you would, because Milford and Maseratis don't !<br><br> mix. ! !<br><br> Your first chapter is a contract with your reader that ! says, "If you like this chapter, you'll like the rest ! of the book, because it's going to be similar." !<br><br> ! Once you write the contract and your reader signs it, ! don't violate it.<br><br> ! ! Of course your first chapter should NOT telegraph the !<br><br> rest of the story. Your reader doesn't want you to give ! away the ending in chapter one.<br><br> Your reader wants a ! promise of a certain tone, pacing, style, and genre. !<br><br> Period. ! !<br><br> On to the next thing. What's a hook, and why do you ! need three of them?<br><br> ! ! A hook is something that makes your reader say, "What's !<br><br> going on? What happens next? I've got to read a bit !<br><br> more." That's all a hook has to do. ! !<br><br> The reason you need hooks is because your reader always ! has the option to close the book RIGHT NOW. Early in !<br><br> your book, your reader hasn't yet committed to your ! story. Early in your book, you need to make the reader !<br><br> commit -- at least to read a bit more. ! !<br><br> The reason you need three hooks is because readers have ! three increasing levels of commitment: ! !<br><br> * If your reader likes the first sentence, she'll ! commit to reading the first page. !<br><br> ! * If your reader likes the first page, she'll commit to ! reading the first chapter.<br><br> ! ! * If your reader likes the first chapter, she'll commit !<br><br> to the rest of the book. If she's in a bookstore, ! that's the point at which she buys the book.<br><br> If she's ! in the library, it's the point where she puts the book ! on her checkout list.<br><br> If she's at a friend's house, ! it's the point where she asks to borrow the book (or ! steals it if the friend turns uncooperative).<br><br> ! ! A hook is generally a sentence or two that DEMANDS the !<br><br> next level of commitment. ! !<br><br> Now let's look at two examples of books with strong ! first chapters and see how well they spell out the ! contract with the reader and set those three hooks.<br><br> ! Note that hooks are tactical, while the contract with ! the reader is strategic, so I'll discuss the hooks !<br><br> first and then the contract. ! !<br><br> ! Example: THE HUNGER GAMES, by Suzanne Collins. !<br><br> ! THE HUNGER GAMES is a young-adult futuristic adventure ! novel with overtones of romance told in first-person !<br><br> point of view by a teen female protagonist. It's one of ! the best books I've read in a very long time and I'll !<br><br> definitely read it again. ! !<br><br> ! Hook #1: The first sentence reads like this: ! "When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold." !<br><br> ! Analysis: That's a good, solid hook. Obviously, our !<br><br> protagonist is sharing her bed with someone. But who? !<br><br> And why? ! !<br><br> The answers come fairly quickly on the first page. Our ! heroine shares a bed with her little sister Primrose, a !<br><br> fresh-faced innocent kid whom everybody loves. Prim ! owns the world's ugliest cat, Buttercup, which our !<br><br> heroine once tried to drown. ! !<br><br> ! Hook #2: At the end of the last paragraph on the first ! page, we find these two sentences: !<br><br> "Sometimes when I clean a kill, I feed Buttercup the ! entrails. He has stopped hissing at me." !<br><br> ! Analysis: Yikes, our heroine cleans kills? Why?<br><br> It ! sounds like our protagonist is not nearly as sweet and ! lovable as Prim, but she definitely sounds interesting.<br><br> ! What is she killing? !<br><br> ! Again, some answers come quickly as the chapter ! progresses.<br><br> Our heroine lives in a poor coal-mining ! town in a poor district of what used to be the USA. Her !<br><br> father is dead, but he left her a bow and she's quite a ! skilled hunter. It's illegal to hunt outside the town, !<br><br> but she does anyway in order to feed her family. One of ! her few friends is a boy named Gale whom she often !<br><br> hunts with, splitting the proceeds. ! !<br><br> We eventually learn that our heroine has a name, ! Katniss Everdeen. We learn that Kat isn't romantically !<br><br> interested in Gale, but it's not hard to guess that ! this might change. Kat is 16 and Gale is 18 and they're !<br><br> friends. ! !<br><br> As the chapter progresses, Kat and Gale fish and hunt, ! then return home for the main event of the day -- the ! Reaping.<br><br> One boy and one girl are to be drawn at random ! from the inhabitants of District 12 to play in the ! Hunger Games -- a battle to the death between 12 boys !<br><br> and 12 girls from across the nation. The Hunger Games ! end when only one survivor remains.<br><br> ! ! Participation in the Reaping is mandatory.<br><br> Kat shows ! up, along with Gale and all the other teens in their ! town.<br><br> There's a ceremony before the drawing. Speeches. !<br><br> Stupid talk about "honor." Then the drawing . . .<br><br> ! ! !<br><br> Hook #3: The final sentence of the chapter tells the ! name of the girl drawn to represent District 12 in the ! Hunger Games: !<br><br> "It's Primrose Everdeen." ! ! Analysis: We're prepared for Kat to be chosen.<br><br> We even ! expect it. But she isn't.<br><br> Her innocent, defenseless, ! weak little sister is chosen instead. !<br><br> ! That's the end of the chapter. That's a brilliant hook.<br><br> ! If you've read that far and you can close the book, ! then you have no soul.<br><br> It's that simple. You HAVE to ! read on to find out what happens next, even though you !<br><br> know from reading the back cover copy that Kat is ! somehow going to take her sister's place in a brutal ! set of modern gladiatorial games that will be televised !<br><br> to the nation. ! !<br><br> ! Contract with the reader: The first chapter is written ! in first person from the point of view of a fairly !<br><br> cynical but hopeful young woman who is clearly a ! fighter. Katniss is trapped in a bleak, unfair, !<br><br> dangerous world, but she'll do everything she possibly ! can to survive and to make sure her family survives. !<br><br> The pacing is quick and every sentence is well-crafted. ! The genre is clearly young-adult adventure.<br><br> ! ! If you are the sort of person who wants either a very !<br><br> slow pace or an adrenaline rocket, then this book isn't ! for you. If you want all romance and no violence, then !<br><br> skip this book. If you want all fluff and no grit, then ! you'll be disappointed.<br><br> The first chapter sets the ! stage for what's to follow, and if you like the first ! chapter, you'll love the book.<br><br> ! ! All of which reminds me that I really want to read this !<br><br> book again. ! !<br><br> ! Example: THE KITE RUNNER, by Khaled Hosseini. !<br><br> ! THE KITE RUNNER is a literary novel set in the years ! between 1975 and the present, told in first-person by a !<br><br> young man who was born in Afghanistan and later came to ! the US. !<br><br> ! ! Hook #1: The first sentence reads like this, in a !<br><br> chapter datelined December 2001: ! "I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a ! frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975." !<br><br> ! Analysis: This is clearly going to be a retrospective ! novel, working through some coming-of-age issues.<br><br> The ! immediate questions any reader would ask are these: ! What are you today?<br><br> What happened in 1975? Why don't ! you sound happy about it?<br><br> ! ! It's a good solid hook.<br><br> As the page progresses, we ! quickly learn that the answers aren't going to come ! quickly.<br><br> There's a mystery to be unraveled here. But we ! also learn that the protagonist is going to face his !<br><br> past, because it's coming back at him now, 26 years ! later. !<br><br> ! In the final paragraph of the first page, the ! protagonist gets a phone call from Rahim Khan, an old !<br><br> friend in Pakistan, asking him to come visit. Our hero ! doesn't say yes and he doesn't say no.<br><br> He goes for a ! walk in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. There he !<br><br> sees some kites, and that reminds him of an old, jagged ! memory: ! !<br><br> ! Hook #2: The paragraph ends with the rather cryptic ! sentences: !<br><br> "And suddenly Hassan's voice whispered in my head: For ! you, a thousand times over. Hassan the harelipped kite !<br><br> runner." ! ! Analysis: This raises a LOT of questions.<br><br> Who's Hassan? ! What would he do a thousand times over?<br><br> What's a kite ! runner? And what's this got to do with 1975?<br><br> ! ! The rest of the chapter is just one more paragraph.<br><br> We ! get another snippet of the phone conversation earlier, ! Rahim Khan's final comment before he hung up: There is !<br><br> a way to be good again. ! !<br><br> That's intriguing. The chapter is short and it ends ! with the final hook: !<br><br> ! ! Hook #3: The chapter ends with two sentences that set !<br><br> the stage for the rest of the book: ! "I thought of the life I had lived until the winter of ! 1975 came along and changed everything.<br><br> And made me ! what I am today." ! !<br><br> Analysis: This raises again the questions that were ! first raised in the first hook. What is our hero today?<br><br> ! What changed in 1975? Why isn't he happy?<br><br> Will he find ! a way to be good again? !<br><br> ! ! Contract with the reader: The first chapter is !<br><br> extremely short, just three long paragraphs told in ! narrative summary. Clearly this is a literary novel !<br><br> about redemption (or lack of it). The pace is going to ! be measured, the language will be thought-provoking, !<br><br> and the style elegant. ! !<br><br> You learn several things in the first chapter: If your ! idea of a good book is measured in body count, ! decibels, or steamy scenes, then the first chapter !<br><br> tells you to look elsewhere, because this is not the ! droid you're looking for. If you insist on getting a !<br><br> happy ending, you know in advance that none is ! guaranteed here, although one is possible. If you want !<br><br> authentic Afghanistan, then you can tell right away ! that you'll get it here. !<br><br> ! ! Now what about the first chapter of your novel?<br><br> What's ! the hook in the first sentence? What's the hook at the !<br><br> bottom of the first page? What's the hook at the end of ! the first chapter?<br><br> What contract do you offer to your ! reader? !<br><br> ! Can you improve your hooks? Can you clarify your !<br><br> contract? ! !<br><br> Don't get hung up on perfection here. The question is ! whether you can improve what you've got right now.<br><br> If ! you can, then do so. !<br><br> ! If you can't, set these questions aside for another ! day.<br><br> You'll be a better writer next month and next ! year. Like Scarlett O'Hara, you can think about it !<br><br> later. ! !<br><br> ! _______________________________________________________ ! _______________________________________________________ !<br><br> ! ! 5) What's New At AdvancedFictionWriting.com !<br><br> ! ! My new book, WRITING FICTION FOR DUMMIES, began !<br><br> shipping in late November and is now in bookstores just ! about everywhere. The book had a terrific launch and !<br><br> spent several days in the top 1000 on Amazon. You can ! find out all about WRITING FICTION FOR DUMMIES here: !<br><br> http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com/info/wffd ! ! !<br><br> I recently released my latest software product, ! "Snowflake Pro," which makes it fast, easy, and fun to ! work through the steps of my well-known Snowflake !<br><br> method for designing a novel. You can find out more ! about Snowflake Pro at: !<br><br> http://www.SnowflakeProSoftware.com ! ! !<br><br> I teach at roughly 4 to 6 writing conferences per year, ! depending on my schedule. My schedule for this year is !<br><br> already beginning to fill in. ! !<br><br> In March, I will be doing a small group mentoring ! workshop at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers ! Conference.<br><br> More info: ! http://mounthermon.org/adult/professionals/writers-conference ! !<br><br> In late July, I'll be doing another small group ! mentoring workshop in Oregon. More details when they're !<br><br> available online. ! !<br><br> In October, I'll be teaching an all-day series of ! lectures in Houston. More details soon.<br><br> ! ! If you'd like me to teach at your conference, email me !<br><br> to find out how outrageously expensive I am. ! !<br><br> If you'd just like to hear me teach, I have a number of ! recordings and e-books that are outrageously cheap. !<br><br> Details here: ! http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com/info ! !<br><br> _______________________________________________________ ! _______________________________________________________ ! !<br><br> ! 6) Steal This E-zine! !<br><br> ! ! This E-zine is free, and I personally guarantee it's !<br><br> worth at least 9271 times the price. I invite you to ! "steal" it, but only if you do it nicely .<br><br> . . !<br><br> ! Distasteful legal babble: This E-zine is copyright ! Randall Ingermanson, 2010.<br><br> ! ! Extremely tasteful postscript: I encourage you to email !<br><br> this E-zine to any writer friends of yours who might ! benefit from it. I only ask that you email the whole !<br><br> thing, not bits and pieces. Otherwise, you'll be ! getting desperate calls at midnight from your friends !<br><br> asking where they can get their own free subscription. ! !<br><br> At the moment, there is one place to subscribe: My ! fiction site: http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com ! !<br><br> ! _______________________________________________________ ! _______________________________________________________ !<br><br> ! ! 7) Reprint Rights !<br><br> ! ! Permission is granted to use any of the articles in !<br><br> this e-zine in your own e-zine or web site, as long as ! you include the following 2-paragraph blurb with it: ! !<br><br> Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the ! Snowflake Guy," publishes the Advanced Fiction Writing ! E-zine, with more than 19,000 readers, every month.<br><br> If ! you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, ! AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND !<br><br> have FUN doing it, visit ! http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com. !<br><br> ! Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing ! and get a free 5-Day Course in How To Publish a Novel.<br><br> ! ! !<br><br> _______________________________________________________ ! _______________________________________________________ ! !<br><br> ! Randy Ingermanson ! Publisher, Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine !<br><br> http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com/ezine ! ! _______________________________________________________ !<br><br> _______________________________________________________ !