Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Workshop 11

After your fabulous first sentence, we, the readers of your awesome novel, want to find ourselves immersed - completely and totally- in your character and his/her world. Now is the time to pull your reader into your book's pages. How do you do this? How do you make a reader WANT to stay, to WANT to know more about the people, places and problems you have invented???

I'm going to write more of the story I am using as examples in the workshop, and then I have a few questions to ask you about the passage.


My name is Snow, like the white powder that falls in the winter, though I don't know what my mom was thinking because it was ninety degrees the day I was born. I turned twelve the year I married a man I hated and thirteen when my first baby was born. At this time in my country, most girls married at the same age I did. They usually had their first baby about a year later, just like me and many, but not all, had never met their husband, much less loved them on the day they married.

The year before I left home, my sister, the only ray of sunshine I had,  helped me stitch my favorite quote on a pillow, which read, "Live life your best even when things are the worst." My life has always been at it's worst, so I tried in vain to live it as best. It reminded me daily that many of my friends were no different than me, although I desperately wished I was different. In a good way.

I didn't hate my husband, at first, by the way. I never loved him because I never had a chance to get to know him. I didn't hate him until after he killed me. I had to leave my little girl behind. With a murderer.


Now, please, really take the time to answer a few questions. Do this, before you read more of the lesson, even if you just said the answer to yourself.

1. What are the main things you have learned about Snow, the main character?
2. Was anything revealed about thestoryline and plot?
3. Did you get a sense of any conflict?
4. Were you pulled into the story? why or why not?

For me, I learned quite a bit about the novel, the character, her friends, her sister, and her husband. I know right off that she has been murdered by her husband- someone she should have been able to trust.

I know she was close to her sister and probably no one else.
She was an average preteen turned teenage, according to all her friends, and yet she didn't want to be compared as "the same."

But Snow was different and so is her story, because we are reading about her after her death. She's telling us about her short life from the after life. This makes the novel compelling and worthy of attention.

As we talked about already this week, it is important to introduce your MC as soon as possible. Even is your novel is plot driven rather than character driven, it's still necessary to get readers involved in your character and what is at stakes for her/him. We want someone we can fall in love with right away so we will care about the exploding plot written within the novels pages!

Your first scene, page, and chapter needs to inform the reader about the conflict you MC is facing and what is at stakes for him or her.

Your assignment s to go back and read your first page and ask yourself the four questions from the above example. If you can't answer them, or if your answer falls flat, work on your opening scene until you are happy with the answers.

Did the above example passage inspire you?


  1. Hi Talynn, I just did this very thing with my WIP and rewrote the first chapter as a result. I realized I needed to engage the readers far earlier and create a sympathy for my MC and a set-up for the plot. Very good points!

  2. I'm going to answer the questions for my novel. I hope that's okay.

    1. From the first page we know the MC's name and what city she's in. We also know her scanty knowledge of Gypsies doesn't come from any direct contact with them. Nothing else is known because she's watching a performance, which is shown to the readers through her eyes.

    2. Not much is revealed at this point. The first page is where Amanda first sees the family that's going to be very important to her and the plot. She just doesn't know it, yet.

    3. No. That comes later in the first chapter.

    4. People who have read it have been pulled into the story because of the rich description of a Gypsy dance in a city not well known by many Americans.

  3. Okay, here goes.
    1. I got that she lives in a third world country or a different time.
    2. She is a ghost and was murdered.
    3. Seems like there is a lingering desire to watch out for her daughter, though I didn't get that she wants to take action or is going to try to tell the police. She does say hate, but it's almost like she doesn't mean it.
    4. I almost wish the first sentence said less - I wish we were left to wonder what her mom was thinking naming her snow versus hearing right away she doesn't know why. Maybe they live in a country where it never snows and the name was a sign of reaching for something that can't be reached since presumably mom would have also been married off early and didn't love her husband too.
    Interesting story! Can't wait for more sneak peeks of where this is going.


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