HOOKING READERS


HOOKING READERS

Natalie Bright

The best way to hook a reader is to create memorable characters that are real, not cardboard. Make your main character (MC) have flaws, which can be physical, internal issues like guilt, hate, shame. This makes characters relatable and unforgettable.

Provide readers with insight into your MC head. It’s not safe with this character, you can never tell what they might do. Hook them with the unexpected and give your characters a secret.

Hook readers with a setting, fantasy or unusual place. Let your setting be a character in itself by providing imagery. Paint a word picture.

Struggles hook the reader, never let your main character have what she wants. Throw every obstacle you can at them and end your chapter with an emotional punch.

Example Ending Chapter Hook: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (By J. K. Rowling) from Chapter 3:

One minute to go and he’d be eleven. Thirty seconds…twenty…ten…nine—maybe he’d wake Dudley up, just to annoy him—three…two…one…

BOOM!

The whole shack shivered, and Harry say bolt upright, staring at the door. Someone was outside, knocking to come in.”

There is no human alive that can resist turning that page and reading the next chapter.

Hope your 2020 be a productive one!

Natalie Bright is the author of the upcoming KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’: The All-American Chuck Wagon Cookbook, soon to be released September 1, 2020. She is also the author of the Trouble in Texas Series, adventure stories for middle grade. 

PAGE-TURNING CHAPTER ENDINGS


PAGE-TURNING CHAPTER ENDINGS

Natalie Bright

Here’s a list of ideas on how you can entice readers to keep turning the pages, even when they reach the end of a chapter.

Sharon Dunn, in her article from the book A NOVEL IDEA, recommends splitting a scene into multiple chapters to hold the reader’s interest. She explains, “…look for the moment in the story when there would be a question planted in the reader’s mind.” 

Here are other ways to end your chapter:

  • With a cliffhanger
  • Your main character has been harmed. The reader is concerned and keeps reading.
  • End with dialogue and a question.
  1. Create an Arrival. A perfect example posted in a previous blog from Charlaine Harris’ EASY DEATH: The sight of two strangers sitting on the bench outside my front door seemed so wrong and bad I had to blink to make sure they were really there.
  • Reveal something new. 
  • End at the beginning of the next scene and carry on in the next chapter.
  • Add to the theme or setting with description.
  • Insight, flashbacks or internal struggles relating to your main character with internal dialogue.

May 2020 be a productive one!

Natalie Bright is the author of the upcoming KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’: The All-American Chuck Wagon Cookbook, soon to be released September 1, 2020. She is also the author of the Trouble in Texas Series, adventure stories for middle grade. 

CHAPTER HOOKS: More Examples


CHAPTER HOOKS: More Examples

Natalie Bright

This month we are blogging about chapter hooks. Thanks for joining us. 

I stepped out of my usual reading zone of romance and women’s fiction, to read a Charlaine Harris book. She can really build the tension and keep you on the edge of your seat. I read late at night and her words stories are in my head when I wake up the next morning. Her chapter hooks are excellent. Here are a few ending chapter sentence examples from EASY DEATH by Charlaine Harris. Genre: fantasy, thriller, violent and bloody.

  1. Even as I fired at the bandit, I saw he’d stopped and aimed. The truck lurched, my gun belt caught on the damn nail, and the world came to an end.
  2. The sight of two strangers sitting on the bench outside my front door seemed so wrong and bad I had to blink to make sure they were really there.
  3. I kept on walking. No one called the police. No one pointed and screamed She’s the one! Or Look at that blood! And I began to realize I really wasn’t going to get caught, thanks to Klementina’s gift.
  4. The third day after the dog attack, Jael could walk on her own, and we made better time. That day, early in the afternoon, we walked into Corbin.

NEXT CHAPTER: Corbin was a busy town…

In the fourth example, notice how she ends in mid-journey but picks it right back up at the beginning of the new chapter. 

May 2020 be a productive one!

Natalie Bright is the author of the upcoming KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’: The All-American Chuck Wagon Cookbook, soon to be released September 1, 2020. She is also the author of the Trouble in Texas Series, adventure stories for middle grade. 

CHAPTER HOOKS


CHAPTER HOOKS

Natalie Bright

Have you ever read a book with the intention of putting it down at the end of the chapter, only to realize you’re 5 chapters in? The chapter ending hook is where you end your scene and entice readers to turn the page as defined in Rory’s blog post here https://wordsmithsix.com/2020/02/05/narrative-fishing/

Here are a few chapter ending hook examples from the book I’m reading now, THE SEARCH by Nora Roberts. Genre: romance.

  1. She pushed herself up, shut down the laptop. 

“I’m going to take that long bath, drink that stupid tea. And you know what? We’re going to book that damn villa. Life’s too damn short.”

  1. “I’m a fan of cold pizza.”

“I’ve never understood people who aren’t.” She rose, held out a hand for his.

  1. She walked out with them, stood with her arms folded over her chest against her thudding heart and the dogs sitting at her feet as they drove away. “Good luck,” she murmured.

Then she went inside to get her gun.

  1. Mai glanced at the doorway, lowered her voice. “I told the concierge not to leave a paper at our door in the morning. Just in case.”

“Good thinking.”

They heard the pop of a cork and Fiona’s shouted, “Woo-hoo.”

“Put it out of your mind,” Sylvia murmured. “So we can keep it out of hers.”

  1. And when he fell, he fell into her eyes.

Homework

Your homework is to choose several books by your favorite authors, preferably in the same genre of your WIP, and with pen and paper, write every last sentence or two of every chapter ending. No typing or reading, only handwriting. 

You will be amazed at how your brain will click on where to end chapters and how to leave an enticing hook for your readers.

Happy Writing!

Natalie Bright is the author of the upcoming KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’: The All-American Chuck Wagon Cookbook, soon to be released September 1, 2020. She is also the author of the Trouble in Texas Series, adventure stories for middle grade. 

DANCES WITH WOLVES -Book Review


DANCES WITH WOLVES

Book Review – Natalie Bright

DANCES WITH WOLVES sold over 3.5 million copies and was translated into 15 languages. The 1990 film, which Kevin Costner directed and starred in, won seven Oscars including Best Picture and Best Screenplay for Michael Blake. He also won the WGA Award and Golden Globes for his script. Local writers were treated with an unbelievable opportunity to meet this amazingly gifted writer.  You’ve probably seen the movie, but I highly recommend the book as well.

Michael Blake shared a heartfelt and grippingly honest reflection in the creation of his book, DANCES WITH WOLVES, during a visit through Amarillo many years ago. After becoming engrossed in Indian history, his long-time friend Kevin Costner, encouraged him to write a novel rather than a screenplay. Mr. Blake told us that he struggled with the ending. The L.A. atmosphere did not lend itself to the inspiration he craved. He moved to Arizona where he lived in his car, worked as a dishwasher, and completed the book.

What a treat to meet Mr. Blake and learn about his struggles and process. I wrote as fast as I could, trying to make note of every word. Following, are some of his best quotes that resonated with me personally from his talk to our Amarillo writers’ group.

  • “Writers are driven to create something from our heart and soul. This is in direct conflict with the agent, producers, and editor’s side of the business,” and for this reason he encouraged us to not be afraid of rejection.
  • “No matter what, keep writing at a level that people will want to read, and keep reading,” he said.
  • “American Indians knew things about the world that we had forgotten. Modern life has moved us away from life on earth. We need balance between earth and our existence.” This belief inspired him to write a story.
  • “Inspire with your writing.”
  • “It’s all about finishing. Power through and get it done.”
  • “Writing must convey feeling. Be different and devastating in terms of feeling.”
  • “Make every conceivable effort to put good words on paper.”
  • “Stay at it!” says Michael Blake. “If you remember only one thing from my talk, this is the thing I want you to take away—never give up.”

 

Author Platforms


Author Platforms

Natalie Bright

 

Veteran writer and motivational coach Colleen M. Story helps you break the spell of invisibility to reveal the author platform that will finally draw readers your way.

For more about Colleen, visit her website here https://colleenmstory.com/

CHARLAINE HARRIS


CHARLAINE HARRIS

Natalie Bright

Over the weekend I read two books. Both had likable characters, engaging plots but the contrast of the golden rule we’ve all heard over and over was glaringly different. Here are two similar scenes as examples of the SHOW, DON’T TELL rule. Paragraph A is “telling. Paragraph B by Charlaine Harris is “showing”.

  1. “…she tried to hide as much as possible, behind some big boulders and to try to make as little noise as possible.”
  2. “When I came to, I was in the middle of a clump of bushes and large rocks. It wasn’t dawn, but it was close. A snake was gliding by me. I could just make out that it was a rattlesnake, its tongue flicking out to catch movement. I didn’t move. I wasn’t sure I could, anyway. I pretended to myself I was choosing not to stir. The birds were singing, so the gunfire and screaming were long over.”   AN EASY DEATH by Charlaine Harris

“Showing” is putting into words the scene that’s in your head and pulling the reader into the story. Emotion brings your writing up a notch by including the five senses. How many senses can you identify in paragraph B?

Vampires, creatures of the night, bloody battles are not my usual go to for reading material but that Charlaine Harris can spin a highly entertaining tale. I was surprised at how much I enjoy her books. Her writing is phenomenal and worth your time to study. I highly recommend AN EASY DEATH, Book #1 in the Gunnie Rose series. The United States is split and in this new take on the old west, the story follows a young gunslinger named Lizbeth Rose. Harris always delivers intense action with heroines/heroes that are flawed as they face quirky villains.

I’m stepping out of my comfort zone again this year and striving to read books in different genres. What book have you discovered that is something totally different from what you usually read? Comment below and let us know.

Thanks for following WordsmithSix!

Thanks for joining us on our publication journey!


Thanks for joining us on our publication journey!

Natalie Bright

WordsmithSix Blog will continue with monthly topics in 2020. Join us in January for Book Reviews, featuring our favorites and a few of our own. And then stay tuned for all things writing as we write, critique, and navigate this crazy creative process of writing and publishing. We are so excited to have you along for the ride. We especially appreciate your comments, questions, and shares. Thank you!

It’s time to think about your goals and dreams for the new year.

FINDING INSPIRATION IN 2020

At the beginning of every year I mark a wall calendar with project notes and goals. As I’m filling out my new calendar, I always pencil in a few conferences. Let’s be honest, your family and non-writer friends will not inspire you to write. Every creative second will be hard fought, if your days are anything like mine. You have to recharge that well and you can do that by spending time with like-minded creatives. There are so many reasons to not participate, but you will be amazed at the change in your motivation, craft, connections, and the new opportunities that will come your way just by putting yourself out there and meeting other writers, agents, and editors. Not to mention the ideas you’ll come away with for promotion, blog topics, places to submit—the list goes on and on. But you cannot sit in a corner. You have to make the effort.

WHERE TO GO

Here are a few recommendations for writing organizations and workshops that I have attended.

Texas High Plains Writers meets every other month in Downton Amarillo. All genres, and guests are welcome.

http://texashighplainswriters.com/

Canadian River Valley Writers Workshop, early Spring in Canadian, Texas. Dates for 2020 are pending.

http://canadianartsalliance.com/sample-page/

Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, 1st weekend in May, Oklahoma City

https://www.owfi.org/conference2020

NOTE: We have an Amarillo area OWFI Affiliate. We meet in Amarillo. If you’re interested, comment below and we will send you more information.

WTAMU Writers Academy June 8-12,2020

https://www.wtamu.edu/academics/eod-writing-academy.aspx

DFW.con June 13-14, 2020, Hurst Conference Center, Hurst Texas. This is huge with every genre represented, amazing speakers, and a wide variety of vendors who can help you get a book in hand. This is an eye-opening, jam-packed experience.

https://dfwcon.org/

365 GOALS


365 GOALS

Natalie Bright

 

As you start a new year of writing, consider what you want to accomplish. Make your goals achievable.

2019 IN REVIEW

In 2019, I changed my approach to goals for the year. I decided to hyper-focus on a few projects and get them finished. My brain is constantly bugging me with new ideas, and the problem is I listen. During the past year, I met about one-third of what I had hoped to achieve, but I can mark off a few projects as completed, which feels very good. In looking over the dry eraser board, here are the results.

  1. Rescue Animal Activity Book for ages 8-10. Artwork, layout, and published. I hired out coloring pages and formatting and had help with the layout. Got a bump in sales from an Amazon Ad.
  2. Nonfiction book deadline met. KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’ for TwoDot Books. Publication date of Fall 2020.
  3. Women’s fiction, western for the Christian market: Done. Writing with a co-author was a challenge, but I am so happy with this story and the characters. Maybe it’s the start of a new series? We’ll be shopping it around to find the best possible option for getting this book into the hands of readers.
  4. Goal: 6 newsletters. Actual: 4
  5. Goal: 52 NEW Prairie Purview blogs. Actual: 20. Priority for 2020 is to generate new material every Friday.
  6. Goal: 52 WordsmithSix Blogs. Actual: 45. I missed a few weeks.
  7. Goal: 2 short stories for Route 66 Anthologies. Actual: 1 story complete.

MAKE IT VISUAL. MAKE IT REAL.

Put it on the wall where you must look at it. What are you working on now? What is waiting on you to finish? What new ideas have you added to the Board? I use a dry eraser board, color-coded between genres or series. I don’t erase anything, but I add to during the year and check off projects that are done.

Whether Indi or Traditionally published, to be a writer means to be a self-motivator.  When it comes down to it, this business is all about STORY. Writing the best story that you possibly can. Butt in chair and words on the page.  The next phase involves finding readers. Selling your book relies on the reader-author relationship.

THE VISION

The big picture: 1. A good story. 2. Readers who can easily buy your work.

BREAK IT DOWN

Achieving the end results is why we set goals. To break down the overall vision into something workable. To channel our focus. Seems crazy when we consider the big picture: “I’m going to write a 100,000 word novel that’s going to have awesome characters and I’ll create a world where they’ll do great things and have a great adventure, and then I’m going to sell my book all over the world.” Yeah, right.

But when we break it down into achievable pieces, the overwhelming can suddenly become doable. For example:

  1. Write one blog every Friday.
  2. Write and polish one chapter of the WIP every week. (A 2,000-word chapter every week for a year equals 104,000 new words. That’s almost 2 books, and you now have a series!)
  3. Read one chapter to critique the group every other week. (26 chapters with a new set of eyes, and polished by years end.)
  4. Read one how-to-write book on craft or marketing every month.
  5. Build my email list by promoting my newsletter on social media once a week.
  6. Send a newsletter promoting my work 3 times a year.
  7. Post on Instagram 1 time per day. (If you hate Instagram, send Tweets)
  8. Post on Facebook Author Page 1 time per day.
  9. Learn about Facebook ads. Promote 1 title. Start small and assess the numbers. How can I improve?
  10. Moms, this one’s for you: Find a place, set up my workspace and shut the door for a few minutes every day.

Do one thing every day over the next year, that’s 365 things you WILL do related to your writing, your dreams, your goals.  It’s all good. It feeds your soul and that is why we keep going.

WHICH WAY TO GO?

Still confused as to the difference between Indie Author and Traditional Publishing? You’re not alone. Many are. One of the best summaries I’ve found is in the book WRITE IT FORWARD by Bob Mayer. We were fortunate to hear him speak in Amarillo several years back and talk about a producer of words. His talk was very motivating. At the back of this book is an Appendix, “Getting Your Novel Published Traditionally”, which explains the process and even gives you definitions of the various people who are involved. This book is all about motivating yourself to write.

All the best in the NEW YEAR. May you be a producer of words and achiever of your vision. Thanks for following Wordsmith Six.

Feng Shui for a Writer’s Office


Feng Shui for a Writer’s Office

Natalie Bright

Setting writing goals in the New Year and realizing those goals depends on you being productive. That means butt in chair and words on the blank screen. Where you work is just as important as crafting a phenomenal sentence. Your writing space should be a sanctuary, a haven of inspiration.

Feng shui (fung SHWAY) is the Chinese art of placement to increase energy in the spaces you occupy. Literally, it means “wind and water”, or the intersection of the seen and unseen. The natural force of a body or space moves in predictable patterns. In Chinese philosophy, this is called qi (chee).  Furniture and objects can be moved, colors can be changed, and the creative energy of a room can be restored, imbalances corrected.

As I have blogged about before, my creative space changes with each project. When I wrote the inspirational book about a deep loss, I sat at the kitchen table. Chaos was all around; kids going in and out of the back door, television blaring, dinner cooking. The noise enabled me to write instead of becoming overwhelmed by the sorrow of the story. The book I just finished was written in our spare bedroom, although feng shui practitioners recommend not working in a bedroom. It was the only place I could shut out the world. From my little desk in the corner, I could watch the covey of quail that milled around outside the window every morning. I could hear the songs birds that gathered in the snowball bush. With my back to the door, I was able to ignore reality and step into the world of my creation.

Clutter is another major deterrent to productivity. When doing research, I use the floor and guest bed to spread out the information. True, it can be distracting but I like having the information at my fingertips. And I love my stacks of books. I did invest in a collapsible table. To anyone else, it looks like a mess, but I know which projects are in which stack. Whatever your methods, I hope you find the perfect space and have a productive and energizing New Year.

Feng Shui Design Tips for your Office 

  1. Is your back to the door? Do you have trouble concentrating? Move your desk to the center of the room and listen to your body. What bugs you? What do you like about the room? Give any change at least two weeks.
  2. What colors are dominate in your working space? Red stimulates fame and reputation. Blue represents wisdom. Green represents growth and new beginnings. Purple inspires spirituality and adventure.
  3. Does the furniture placement flow, or is it distracting? Can you move freely throughout the space? Your energy might be stifled by clutter.
  4. Bedrooms should be a place of calm, whereas offices are spaces of active energy. If you must work in a bedroom, divide the area by using a screen or curtain.
  5. Organize your desktop as you would the room. Personal symbols can be inspiring, like a favorite coffee mug or candle. Invest in bookcases or additional tables to declutter and organize your projects.
  6. Declutter to clear your mind. Clean out your email inbox and computer files. Toss those distracting sticky notes and start an idea notebook instead. Focus your energy and stop stressing over undone tasks.