Structure And The Novel – The First 50 Pages

We talked before about a novel’s opening line, and how important getting it just right is. So, now let’s say you’ve written that bang up first line, and now let’s focus on the rest of the book’s beginning– the first fifty pages.

Isn’t that just the hardest part? I hear from so many writers struggling with where to start, how much to convey up front, and how active page one needs to be, etc., etc. And the answers vary– a lot. Depending upon in what genre you’re writing, for one thing. A Thriller must begin very differently from a Western or Category Romance or even a Cozy Mystery. But as far as novel development is concerned, the inherent factors remain the same.

The best way to begin a novel is just to begin it. In other words, quit obsessing and write. If you’re serious about the process, no one will ever see the first draft anyway. And even if you’re of the sort who specifically outlines from alpha to omega, much will change once you get to that initial “The End.” At which point, you’ll always go into revisions by rewriting the beginning. Often, many times.

All right, so the original creation process is finished, and you’re into revisions– the actual book editing. What do you want to accomplish with your opening? HOW you do this, again, will vary by genre. But WHAT you want to get done in the beginning crosses them all.

By far the biggest glitch I see is that the novel really begins about fifty pages in. Writers, especially before finding their sea legs (no matter how long they’ve been at it– learning to write is not a matter of time so much as it is of willingness, dedication, and application), ramble along for a good way before finding the track of their stories. Even seasoned writers do this, especially those who write from “discovery”– not knowing exactly how to get where they’re going until it opens before them. The difference is, professionals then go back to cut and begin again, and aren’t afraid of killing their own words to do so. Your editing arm will learn to point out where the pacing lags, or how much ancillary material needs slicing because much of that was necessary for you, the writer, to know, but not for the reader. Remember: Your reader is trusting you to convey to him ONLY those things that pertain to these specific characters in this specific story. The rest is just background material for you, the book author (and is merely noise for the reader).

The next problem I see has to do with the book’s hook. Now, entire volumes have been published regarding this subject, so I’m not going to delve into it deeply. In fact, I really believe too much has been made of it, in that now writers are so sensitive to setting hooks that their books’ beginnings are often contrived. Settle down here. Yeah, your book needs a good hook, which is no more than a reason for me to keep reading. And yeah, I need a sense of where the book is heading and who the main folks are from the get go. But I don’t need a crash course in the characters’ histories, or an intricate foreknowledge of what’s to come. That produces the opposite effect of what you seek– turning off your reader with so much detail that he spits out your lure and swims back into the bookstore’s sea.

A hook can be nothing more than a quirky character about whom I want to know more (unless, of course, this is a Suspense Thriller!). Or a bizarre event that tweaks my interest. And yeah, it needs to come in early enough to catch my curiosity so I keep going. Rule of Thumb in Murder Mysteries is that the killing should occur on page one. If you can’t hook ’em with some sort of unique slaying, you need to pick another genre in which to write. In all categories of Romance, my heart should stir in Chapter One. In Mainstream, I should find a character compelling enough to cause me to want more. And in Literary, the writing needs to take my breath–at least for moments, on page one.

My very favorite opening to any book goes thusly:

“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing. We lived at the junction of the great trout rivers in western Montana, and our father was a Presbyterian minister and a fly fisherman who tied his own flies and taught others. He told us about Christ’s disciples being fishermen, and we were left to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman.”

I would have followed that author to the ends of the Earth. And did.

Here as well is where you establish the Protagonist– the person with whom your reader is to travel the course of this novel. And, you must give a sense of his/her conflicts– even if the catalyst for the conflict (be it man or beast, internal or external, supernatural or drought) isn’t itself in evidence. The point of the conflict on the main character is the important thing, not the conflict itself. We have to move our hero out of his comfort zone– to begin the novel.

You must also firmly set the tone. If this is to be a Murder Mystery of some sort, someone gets killed straight out of the gate, thereby setting an ominous tone (if it’s well done). If the book’s a Literary one, the writing itself must effect the resonance that you seek.

On page one, we must find the Story Question, which we’ll talk about in the next installment of Structure. Because that Question will weave through each and every scene of your book.


Article Writing: How to Structure Your Article for Maximum Impact

If you are submitting articles to directories on a regular basis but not seeing an increase in traffic to your website don’t just give up. There might be a simple fix. People on the Internet today are time poor, so you need to write your articles in a way that makes it easy for them to digest the information and take action. Here five things you must think about before you write your next article.

1. Make your title as engaging as possible

Your article title is probably the most important part of your article. You need to remember to think of both the search engine and the reader when you write your title because it will not only help your article to rank but will also encourage the reader to click on the link.

Include your main keyword in the title to tell the search engines what your article is about, but don’t forget your reader. Your title needs to be persuasive and make them curious to find out more about what you have to say.

The first three or four words of your title are most important so instead of using ‘How to Organise Your Office’, try ‘Organise Your Office: 7 Tips for Never Losing that $1000 Cheque Again’.

2. Invest in your introduction

Some directories allow you to submit a summary of your article, others just use the introduction as the summary. You can make your article more effective by using the first paragraph work as both an introduction and a summary.

You need to use the title to make your reader curious about what else you have to offer so that they keep reading. Remember that a good article will solve a problem for the reader so use the introduction to describe what problem this article will solve for them. Describe the problem and where you can use a personal example to establish yourself as a real person and build a rapport with the reader.

3. Use the body to solve the problem

The article body should be used to explain the solution to the problem that you outlined to the reader in your introduction. Focus on your topic and stick to it. It is very easy to go off on a tangent, especially if you are passionate about a topic. If you have more than one topic in mind then just write an article for each one.

Break up your article using subheadings and bullets to make it easier for the reader to follow but also to pull them into the text.

4. Encourage further investigation with the ending

The end of your article should summarise the solution to the problem; try and end with a quote or an interesting point that will encourage the reader to want to do some further investigation.

5. Make use of your resource box

Now that you’ve shown the reader how to solve their specific problem you can use the resource box to tell them what else you can do to help them. Encourage them to click on the link to your website by offering them a free report which will make it easier for them to implement the solution you just outlined to them.

By using a simple structure you will make your articles much easier to read, they are more likely to be accepted into the directories and much more effective at encouraging readers to visit your website.

Amazing Tips For Structure and Outline of a Persuasive Essay

Exordium: Introduction

The introduction is where you break the ice, where you click with the readers so you have to ensure that come up with strong words to grab their attention. You have the option to open with an interrogatory statement i.e. ask a question.

You can also jump in to the essay with a personal experience (anecdote) of yours, an extraordinary or abnormal detail, or with a quote. If none of those work for you, you can always commence the intro with valid facts & stats.

Narration: Reporting Background Facts and Logic

Up next, without delving too much into details & specifics, you’ll state your viewpoints on the basis of existing facts, data or arguments. Think of this like a thesis statement where you brief the reader about all that is to follow.

Confirmation: Essay Body

Now, you’ll start to develop the actual body (content) of your persuasive essay. It is always beneficial to study your reader audience before you start to construct the essay body. Knowing their background and viewpoints will always be of assistance because you will be stating your claims & supporting evidence in the body.

Adopt a proper tone & approach which confirms to your existing claims and argument on the basis of previous research, facts or data analysis. Not only will you be backing up your claim, but also refuting the opposition’s; this is the core of your essay and the lengthiest component.

Refutation: Discussing Alternative Approaches

Alternative approaches or those analysis which differ on a  slightly different angle are discussed in this section to give your essay depth and vertical approach of the issue addresses.

Peroration: Conclusion

Following all this is the conclusion. Here, you will reiterate & replicate your words from the intro paragraph so that the reader is reminded of things that might’ve escaped their minds.

Re-bond with them and pull them over to your side of the fence by getting them to think with a question or a quote that gets them to, involuntarily, support your viewpoint.

It is often helpful to tie the conclusion back to the introduction in order to strengthen and solidify your claim.

Formatting a Persuasive Essay

Prior to writing your persuasive essay, take some time out to focus on the topic itself. First and foremost, you have to decide on whether you’re in favor of or against the notion. After that, start scribbling down all the thoughts that start coming to your mind; this is where you’ve started the brainstorming process.

Jot down all the points that prop up your standpoint. Once you’ve got all the points jotted down, you will move on to constructing the introductory paragraph and there are many ways to approach the introduction.