The Perfect First Word for Your Next Story Magazines are swamped with submissions and some only have time to read a paragraph or two before deciding to reject or continue on. How do you hook a reader in the first sentence?
The last word in a paragraph is a power position —Nancy Kress
This is one of fiction’s major challenges: making readers understand a character’s motives when those motives are not simple. The way you create such understanding is through patterns of incidents.
“I do work very hard and consciously at my craft. At the sound, the flow, the exactness, the connections, the implications of my words.” — Le Guin
How do you introduce a new character quickly, without making them wooden? Delany describes a technique that can lend depth to single-scene characters.
When should you use the passive voice? Are there situations in which it’s preferrable over the active voice?
What makes a story memorable months or years after reading it? How can you make a plot device stand out, particularly when it is one as timeworn as a reversal?
What makes some metaphors seem at odds with the rest of the text and others enmeshed within it? How can you write similes that draw the reader into the world of the story?
What are the tried and true techniques for writing a flashback? What can you accomplish through a flashback scene?
How long do you have to hook your reader? One sentence? One paragraph? Longer?
Make your metaphor the best it can be by doubling down on it.
How can you quickly build tension between two characters? And how can you imbue that tension with a feeling of immediacy?
What’s the difference between an internal and external flashback? Why might a writer use an internal analepsis instead of an external one
The best short-story writers maintain an arsenal of shortcuts. Learn how to write concisely without lessening impact.
Learn how to use flash forwards (prolepses) to avoid adding too much exposition. What does a flash forward look like in a short story?
How can you describe the setting of your story without it reading like a dry litany of told facts? How can you keep this exposition centered firmly around the main character to keep it grounded in the narrative’s flow of time
Are there extras in novels? Learn how successful authors handle characters that only appear in one scene.