Monday, February 5, 2018

Writing the Opening of Your Story - the TaDa Moment!

Your story starts with the first chapter.

I take that back. Your story starts with the first page.

Oh wait, I mean, your story starts with the first paragraph.

No, sorry, my mistake. Your story starts with the first sentence.

The first SENTENCE. Okay, that makes more sense.

Your first sentence is your "hook" to luring the reader to pause all that they are doing and read your book.

Your hook from the first sentence widens into the first line, the first paragraph, the first page, and the first chapter. All very important in gaining confidence in your writing and success in ensuring your reader.

According to Noah Lukeman, in The First Five Pages, "... the job of the hook is to set the tone for the book..."

Lukeman cautions that the "Hook" is more than a marketing tool. "It can establish a character, narrator or setting, convey a shocking piece of information."

Priscilla Long writes in The Writer's Portable Mentor, "Often a good opening consists of a small sentence that concentrates into its short little self the essence (sometimes the central dramatic conflict) of what follows.

Long lists various ways to use the first sentence:

  • Begin with an aphorism.
  • Ask the central question of the piece.
  • State directly what the piece is about.
  • Establish your protagonist's connection to the subject matter at hand.
  • Begin with a telling anecdote or quote.
  • Rely on the reliable What? When? Where? Why? Who?
  • Begin with a good title.

Long suggests that writers collect openings written by others. Keep a sentence book and collect these passages and study from them, learning from them.

K. M. Weiland writes in Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding
Story, "The hook comes in many forms, but stripped down to its lowest common denominator, it's nothing more or less than a question. If we can pique our readers' curiosity, we've got 'em. Simple as that."

Writers want readers to ask, "What's going to happen?" Or, as K.M. Weiland writes, "Readers have to understand enough about the situation to mentally form a specific question. What the heck is going on here? does not qualify as a good opening question."

Your opening to your story must sell the story. You can have the best darn ending ever written but no one will ever read it if they're not hooked in your opening.

K.M. Weiland outlines the traits and parts of a good opening:

  • Don't open before the beginning of the story. Don't dump your backstory in your opening.
  • Open with characters; preferably the protagonist to connect your character with your reader.
  • Open with conflict. Without conflict, you have no story.
  • Open with movement. Keep your characters moving.
  • Establish the setting to ground your reader in the physicality of the story.
  • Orient readers with an establishing shot by presenting the setting and characters' positions within it in a sentence or two.
  • Set the tone the reader to understand what type of story they are reading.

Openings give you the best and first opportunity to make a profound statement about your story. It should include as many of the following five parts as you can:

  • Inherent Question
  • Character
  • Setting
  • Sweeping Declaration
  • Tone

Work on your opening lines. They should introduce your story’s character, plot, setting, theme and voice and send the reader on an unforgettable adventure.

James V. Smith, JR., outlines what a great opener might contain, in The Writer’s Little Helper:

  •      A great first line
  •       Excitement: high action, high drama, high anxiety
  •       An intro to the heroic character
  •       An intro to the worthy adversary
  •       Problems that stand in the way of the heroic character achieving a worthy goal
  •       Your best writing style, to set the tone and to show you can write: action, conflict, imagery, dialogue, irony
  •       A feel for the story’s setting and atmosphere
  •       Foreshadowing of things to come
  •       Above all, a single overwhelming central problem that will only get worse until it appears incapable of being solved, a problem that will defeat the heroic character unless she defeats it in the Closer

A final word of caution from Smith, “Don’t press too hard with these opening words. Just as in trying to meet someone you admire, it’s possible to go breathless and appear needy if you try too hard. You’ll be tempted to overwrite an overwrought opener if you’re not careful. Be cool. Be natural. No matter how hard you have to work at it, make it look easy.”

The Writer's Portable Mentor by Priscilla Long
The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman
Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story by K. M. Weiland
The Writer’s Little Helper by James V. Smith, JR.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

UPDATED - Life Stories Writing Workshop on April 1. 2017

For all those who would like to attend, I will be presenting a workshop to the Bloomingdale Writers Connection on April 1, 2017 at the Bloomingdale Library in Valrico, FL.

The address is 1906 Bloomingdale Ave, Valrico, FL

2:00 pm - 5:00 pm with a break in between for refreshments

Please call or email Valerie Perry,  to register, there is no cost.

The topic is Life Story Writing - Focusing on finding the time and making the commitment to write, tightening your story by finding the right words, learning the life story "formula," and much more. I will include handouts and intersperse the workshop with fun and inspiring writing exercises.

I will also have my books available for purchase. If you have been looking for a workshop about Life Story Writing, then look no further. This will be fun, interactive, and casual!


What a wonderful welcome I received from the workshop attendees today!  Your enthusiasm and participation helped me present a workshop designed especially for you. I rode your energy the entire drive home. 

Thank you, Val Perry and the Bloomingdale Writers Connection, for coordinating and organizing the event. Without your support and guidance, I would not have been successful.

To everyone I spoke to, YOU TRULY MADE MY DAY!!

I had the time of my life!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

All Coaching and Workshops are FREE from NOW ON

I did not come to this decision lightly. I sought advice, both through prayer and Bible Study. I am no longer going to charge for any workshop I present or any writing coach services I am asked to provide. 

I have a great gift to give writers and why should it only be for the writers who can "afford" it? All writers deserve to learn how to hone their writing skills and seek assistance.

I will serve my God by serving others, and I will help you be the best writer you can be.

As I continue to update this blog, I will eliminate all reference to costs. Please bear with me. In the meantime, let me know if you would like to talk writing!

If you desire, I will help you achieve your writing goals!

Have a blessed day.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Guess Who is Turning 55?

Remember when ...

The 1961 Favorite TV shows

  • Hazel
  • Perry Mason
  • Candid Camera

In 1961 Sports News

  • World Series Champion - New York Yankees
  • US Open Golf - Gene Littler
  • Pro Football Champions - Houston Oilers & Green Bay Packers
  • Indianapolis 500 Winner - A.J. Foyt / 139.130 mph
  • Stanley Cup Winner - Chicago Blackhawks
  • NCAA Basketball Champion - Cincinnati
  • College Football Champions - Alabama & Ohio St
  • Heisman Trophy Winner - Ernie Davis from Syracuse

1961 Interesting Facts
President of United States - John F Kennedy
Vice President - Lyndon Johnson

Pulitzer Prize Winner - Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird

Miss America - Nancy Fleming from Montague, MI

A chimp named Enos became the first non-human primate sent into orbit by the US

1961 Cost of Living

New House ..... $12,550.00
Average Income ..... $5,315.00
New Car ..... $2,849.00
Average Rent ..... $110.00 / month
Harvard University Tuition ..... $1,250.00 / year
Movie Ticket ..... $1.00
Gasoline ..... $0.27 / gallon
US Postage Stamp ..... $0.04


Granulated Sugar ..... $0.89 / 10 pounds
Vitamin D Milk ..... $1.05 / gallon
Ground Coffee ..... $0.85 / pound
Bacon ..... $0.67 / pound
Eggs ..... $0.30 / dozen
Fresh Ground Hamburger ..... $0.40 / pound
Fresh Baked Bread ..... $0.21 / loaf

1961 Favorite Music & Movies


Big Bad John - Jimmy Dean
Blue Moon - The Marcels
Runaround Sue - Dion
Runaway - Del Shannon
Mother-in-Law - Ernie K-Doe
Please Mr Postman - The Marvelettes
Hit the Road Jack - Ray Charles
The Lion Sleeps Tonight - The Tokens
 Tossin' and Turnin' - Bobby Lewis
Travelin' Man - Ricky Nelson


West Side Story
Breakfast at Tiffany's
One Hundred and One Dalmatians
The Parent Trap
The Hustler
The Guns of Navarone

Uh, if you haven't figured it out by now, IT IS MY 55TH BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Coming Soon - New Chat Opportunity to Learn from Your Writing Coach, a new connection application, is going to be launching an app soon that enables clients to get advice via video chat with qualified, carefully selected Authors.  I am signing up so that you can have the opportunity to chat LIVE with me and ask me questions about writing tips or specific writing issues you may be experiencing.

Carrot's goals:

Enjoy a seamless experience

We built Carrot to get people video-chatting in 10 seconds
  • Sign-up quickly and with no hassle.
  • Browse experts on Carrot or invite anyone to easily join.
  • Pay per minute, simply and transparently.
  • Video chat anyone in your social networks.

Experts and influencers
  • Set your rate easily and withdraw funds at ease.
  • Direct people to video chat you on Carrot by word of mouth.
  • Get targeted traffic courtesy of Carrot.

The video link gives a quick overview of the purpose of and how you can join. You can also join by clicking my link "join me" below.

As soon as the application launches, we can be chatting "just like that!"

Join me at