Research, Exercise and Writing

What a week it has been. I have actually had a pretty productive week, and even now, on Saturday night, I’m astounded by how much I achieved. I worked out every day, absolutely smashed myself at work, and still had time to write and research. Go me! haha

Monday started on the right foot. Woke up and forced myself to jump on the exercise bike and spent my 40 minute bike ride reading. Not just reading anything either. Researching. 

I read about first chapters and the “hook.” I touched on this slightly in my article, Common Mistakes for First-Time Writers, but honestly, I wasn’t quite sure how to really do this effectively. My reading came with the same trials as any other person looking for answers online. A lot of conflicting ideas were presented to me. So I thought I would discuss each here briefly. 

The first article I read, How to Hook Readers with the First Chapter, was written by an author that had done the same as me. Just researched how to improve the start of her novel. She had received feedback that the start had been a bit flat. She read this article, Killer First Lines, and realised what she had to do. She moved her fourth chapter to the first, as the action started in the fourth. She had been concerned originally, like most writers are, that the audience needed to understand why something was happening before anything happened. But too much exposition at the start is one of the biggest mistakes writers make. (The other articles I read were here and here.)

This realisation made me start to question exactly how to start my novel. The Young Mystics is ever evolving now, and that is ever true of the first line and the first chapter. I had spent a lot of effort writing a prologue that showed the world but didn’t explain it, and I thought it was been a great hook. However, prologues are a lazy way to provide backstory. So I was stuck coming up with ways to integrate it later into my book and give a better start for the main story. In the original draft, the main action started in the second chapter. The question remains if I start here or create a new scene.

The other day, I re-read the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I haven’t read it since 2000, I think it was. I was very surprised to recall that she had started that book with the backstory of when Harry was given to the Dursleys. It wasn’t a prologue, it set up the world in a backstory format, and she followed it up with more introductions of Harry’s life with a history of strange things following him. Of course, that’s a children’s novel, and it read simply. Yet it was effective, and as a young adult, I still enjoyed every moment of it.

So this week, for my short story, I created a possible beginning for my book. I decided to look at it from a different angle, and took into consideration the things I learned from these two articles and my learnings from the effective beginning of the Harry Potter series. It likely won’t be the way I go, but it has been fun working in a different perspective. 

Nevertheless, I have kept my promise to myself and this blog. I spent my week with a balance of work/life, healthy lifestyle, and writing. I’m pretty chuffed about that. Now to repeat it for the rest of the year and the next and all those after that. 😉

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