Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Latest news and 100 writing tips in 100 days

Hey everybody! How's your summer been so far? I started mine off with Book Expo America, where I signed tons of books, and got to meet some amazing authors, booksellers, and readers. I shook hands with Rick Riordan and discovered we must look a little alike, because I was mistaken for him several times.

What do you think? Do we look at all alike? I'm not so sure.

I also got lots of great books that I'll tell you about in the coming days and was nearly shot by a storm trooper.

(It turns out I wasn't the author he was looking for.)

That was followed up by several writing conferences, including Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers, a week long hands-on class where I had such a good time and made more new friends, as well as renewing some old ones.

Great looking group huh?

On the writing front, I just turned in the third Case File 13 book, Evil Twins, and signed a contract for a fourth book in the series. I'm nearing completion on Fire Keep, the fourth book in the Farworld series scheduled to come out in February. I'm also working on a top secret new project that I will tell you about down the road. My next book to come out is Making the Team. This is the cover if you haven't seen it. (Or even if you have)

You might notice Tiffany, Dana, and Angie made the cover in this one. That's because they play a much more prominent role in this book. Kirkus gave it a great review, saying among other things, "The addition of the girls not only broadens the book’s appeal, but adds a humorous layer of boy-girl interaction that preteen readers will get a kick out of. It’s a battle of the sexes as the mystery leads them to an unusual private school with larger-than-life (literally) students and a mad-scientist headmaster with a demonic agenda."

I was pretty excited to have received two really great Kirkus reviews for the first two books in the series since they can be a pretty tough reviewer.

So, yep, great summer so far. Doing all those writing events made me think that it's been a while since I've posted any writing advice. There are a bunch of little things I've learned over the years and I thought it might be fun to share them in one place. If you like to write, they might help. And even if you are more of a reader, it might help you see what works and doesn't work in books. As with all advice, take what works for you and ignore what doesn't. There are very, very few hard and fast rules. But it's good to know what the rule is and why it's there before you break it.

So with that exciting introduction, here goes 100 writing tips in 100 days.

Tip 1 of 100

Try not to start your story with any of the following:

  • Having your character look in the mirror to describe themselves.
  • Waking up.
  • A scene that ends up being a dream.
  • Flowery description of the setting/weather.
  • A flashback.
  • A bunch of back story information.
  • Anything boring.

The key to a good beginning is to pull the reader in. It doesn't need to be an explosion or other shocking event. It can be as simple as interesting dialog, an argument, or a first day at school. But it has to be immediate. It has to make the reader interested enough that they will turn the page.

One great way to start your story is with a conflict that is not the major conflict. If you've never watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, go online and watch a couple of old episodes. Notice how often there is a side story going on that ends up tying into the main story and eventually being replaced by the primary conflict.

In Zombie Kid it was the new Halloween  costumes. In Water Keep, it was Marcus getting attached by the bullies at his school. The great thing about a minor conflict is that it grans the reader's attention, but doesn't give away the whole plot. It sets up the main conflict.

Check back tomorrow for another tip.


Cenendra said...

I knew that! I didn't know that I knew that but I did! It's like I knew it in a different language, but now that the concept is put into words in front of me, I understand it.

David Glenn said...

So would an example be bandits rushing into town, causing mayhem, a hero shows up and stops them while the character looks on inspired?

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