Friday, November 30, 2012

Writing A Novel: First Chapter Challenges

Writing a novel is hard work around, but for me the toughest part of the process is getting those first few chapters out of the way. These are those all-important chapters where you set up your characters and scene -- and of course, write an introduction that's interesting enough to hook your readers.

What I find challenging is that I have to use a lot of exposition in these introductory chapters. It's where I set up the main characters' backstory and their relationships to one another. But the trick is to keep that exposition natural sounding. One of the basic things we're tought in any creative writing class is to "show, not tell," but it's difficult to "show" what a person looks like, for example, without TELLING a bit about them! On the other hand, rattling off lists of adjectives can get boring rather quickly. So, what to do?

I try to weave in the details. For instance, rather than stopping at every new character to describe his or her appearance, I'll add in a subtle detail, "She twirled a piece of her blonde hair around her finger." Or if I'm sharing some backstory, it'll be organic to the story and will set up later events. For the male lead in my latest book, I just went with a flat-out description coming from my narrator -- but he's supposed to be very good-looking, so it was a description from the point of vie of, "Oh my God, there's no adequate way to describe his beauty." As I said before, the trick is finding that balance. I don't think that there's really a right or wrong answer to when to show versus tell; it depends on what works for your story.

Still, I most enjoy writing the middle of my books -- the meat of my stories. It's funny because my husband is always saying that in real life, I don't really like getting to know people; I like to know them. I guess I feel the same way about my characters. I enjoy getting to the heart of who they are and sharing that with my readers.

At this point, I'm almost done with the introductory chapters in my latest novel. I'm just at the point where I'm about to lauch into the deeper part of my tale -- and I can't wait to get there.

Please read and review my first novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

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