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.”

 

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/

The universe is against you—just so you know.


The universe is against you—just so you know.

Natalie Bright

Ideas are everywhere, if you can learn to recognize them. And then the stories in your head won’t go away. Once you acknowledge to yourself that you have a passion for writing, the universe will seemingly turn against you. There has been a story lurking inside you and if you’re like most of us, probably your whole life, and this will be the hardest work you have ever done.

Here are some tips to push aside the static in your life and stay on track with your writing.

  1. Take note of those ideas. You can sort the ones you want to work on later. Write it down. Write everything down!
  2. Push aside the guilt and make the commitment to yourself, and then tell your family. “This is my writing time. This is important to me.” There will be a crisis at every turn, but you can persevere.
  3. Make a creative space with no distractions. A closet with a desk, a card table in the corner of your bedroom. Turn your back to reality and set foot into the visions in your mind.
  4. Remember the end goal. What is your end goal? A book in hand? Author events and talks? Manning a booth and selling your books at the local craft show? Don’t lose sight of the goal to hold your book in your hand. It’s one of the greatest feelings in the world.

My co-authors and I were at a recent event selling books. A poet stopped by our booth. Typical of most writers, he’d had a story scrambling his brain his entire life. We encourage him to pursue that dream. Now is the time!

Be open to the ideas around you. Listen to your gut. It’s never been easier to realize a publishing dream. There are so many options and people out there to help you make it happen.

 

FICTION DEPENDS FOR ITS LIFE ON PLACE


FICTION DEPENDS FOR ITS LIFE ON PLACE

 

A few quotes about setting…

“Every story would be another story, and unrecognizable if it took up its characters and plot and happened somewhere else. Fiction depends for its life on place. Place is the crossroads of circumstance, the proving ground of, what happened? Who’s here? Who’s coming?” EUDORA WELTY

“I think I have a God complex, and I like moving mountains and writing stories that affect entire worlds, and it’s a bit hard to do that in a contemporary setting because you have reality intruding. Whereas, when you set your own reality, you can makeup your own rules and do whatever you like.” JENNIFER FALLON

“I never think of an entire book at once. I always just start with a very small idea. In HOLES I just began with the setting; a juvenile correctional facility located in the Texas desert. Then I slowly make up the story, and rewrite it several times, and each time I rewrite it, I get new ideas, and change the old ideas around.” LOUIS SACHAR

“I always strive to create a setting that leaves the readers’ imagination room to roam. That way, every reader sees the story through their own eyes.”  P.S. BARTLETT

“I think setting as almost a character of its own, influencing the other characters in ways they’re not even aware of. So much of the success of a good ghost story rides on creating a creepy atmosphere; details of the landscape itself can help create a sense of dread.” JENNIFER MCMAHON

WALKING THE LAND


WALKING THE LAND

Natalie Bright

Your story setting is the location, environment, or atmosphere in which your novel takes place. Some authors believe in getting to know the setting by walking the land.

Here’s the link to a Youtube video with New York Times Bestselling author Jodi Thomas explaining her process. The photos featured in the video were taken by me in the Texas Panhandle, and if you like cows and Texas sunsets and such, you can see more on my blog, Prairie Purview, at nataliebright.com or find me on Instagram @natsgrams and Pinterest @natbright

Video: Walking the Land with Jodi Thomas

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sG4IeXueJDA

 

nataliebright.com

Point of View: Omniscient


Point of View: Omniscient

“The coffee-room had no other occupant, that forenoon, than the gentleman in brown. His breakfast-table was drawn before the fire, and as he sat, with its light shining on him, waiting for the meal, he sat so still, that he might have been sitting for his portrait.

… He wore an odd little sleek crisp flaxen wig, setting very close to his head: which wig, it is to be presumed, was made of hair, but which looked far more as though it were spun from filaments of silk or glass. His linen, though not of a fineness in accordance with his stockings, was as white as the tops of the waves that broke upon the neighboring beach, or the specks of sail that glinted in the sunlight far at sea.”

The exert above, from A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens, 1946) is an example of storytelling in an omniscient viewpoint.

Omniscient Defined – There is no identifiable character observing the scene above and relaying the information. Instead, a narrator, who is not identified, tells the tale.