POST ONE: The First Sentence
I like structure. I like thinking about it and analyzing it and manipulating it to my own ends. I like seeing how other people use it (if they use it) and thinking about what worked and what didn’t. I’ve mentioned this elsewhere before, but I went to film school. (Not a brag.) I studied screenwriting. I do not work in film. However, I did learn many things in the course of obtaining that now-dusty diploma, and one of those things was the importance of structure.
I’m not a person who likes social media. I don’t take pictures of my food or my pets or my socks and show them to people. I don’t understand why other people do this, either, I just know that they do. So when trying to think of something to add to my website, I mostly stared blankly at the wall until it dawned on me: I’ll write a series of posts about structure. Beginning, middle, end, and all the places in between. Easy, right?
Because writing is hard. Just figuring out how to begin has been difficult. So be warned: this is not a series of posts about how to make writing easier. If anything, it might make it harder. Because it’ll ask you to think about things you may already know, or things you think you know, or things you never knew you didn’t know. The good news is that once those wheels start turning, it’s hard to make them stop. (The bad news is the same: it’s hard to make them stop, and when you’re reading other books you’ll start noticing these things and very soon you won’t like mediocre books you’ll only enjoy great books and everyone will say you’re a snob.)
I’m going to use my own books as examples for everything I talk about here, mostly because I’m familiar with them and I can use them as examples of what I think worked and what was not so successful (or failed epically) without anybody getting offended. If I think of other examples that support what I’m saying, I’ll use those, too. And because I write romance, I intend to use largely examples from this genre, though as far as the writing strategies/techniques go, you can use them for any type of story. It’s fine if you disagree with any of the things I’m saying; the point isn’t necessarily to convert you or change you or even fascinate you. The point is this: THINK ABOUT IT. That’s it. Think about it when you’re writing, and think about it when you’re reading. Just think about it.
POST TWO: The Inciting Incident