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The Importance of Instant Impact

There are many rules in the construction of good story. One of the most important is instant impact- the art of capturing the attention of your readers/potential readers as quickly as possible.

Take your lead from the balladeers and the storytellers of history. If they didn’t impress the audience who gathered to hear their tales by the end of the second line they’d uttered, then they wouldn’t earn enough money to eat that night.

For the modern writer this lesson is a good one. There are so many books in the world that, if you don’t take a firm grip of your reader’s imagination within the first two or three paragraphs (if not sentences), then the chances of you selling your work is automatically harder. If not impossible. Editors and agents read hundreds of first paragraphs each month. If you don’t engage them straight away they won’t read more than a few pages. Consequently, every single word you have written after page four is in danger of being nothing but a waste of time.

Here are a few ways to create instant impact to grab that elusive audience- and hopefully keep them grabbed!

–          Start with some powerful first line dialogue. Something that makes you want to know what follows, and why what is being said, is being said. Such as…

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” – (Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier)

–          Add immediate tension by starting in the thick of the action. Such as…

Dr Clouston could barely keep himself on the seat. The wheels of his carriage kept cracking over humps and puddles, breaking the night’s silence as they rode frantically towards Dundee.  –  (The Strings Murder, Oscar de Muriel)

–          Build a scene on paper that draws the reader in so much, that they want to be there- or that leaves them feeling relieved that they aren’t.  Such as…

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.” – (A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens)

–          Start with a sentence that makes sense- but makes the reader need to keep going to find out what on earth is going on. Such as…

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” – (1984, George Orwell)

–          Begin with a recollection. A situation that your novel will later explain. Such as…

“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” – (One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez)

In an age of instant technology and an immediate availability of information, people are used to instant gratification- so the faster you engage your readers mind, the better!

Happy writing,

Jenny x

 

 

 

 


So you want to be a writer

So you want to be a writer.

8 questions it’s helpful to ask before you start.

Who are you writing for?

Yourself, friends, family…

What are you writing for?

Money, fun, to make a point, to leave something of yourself behind after your death, because you simply have to write?

So – you’ve decided to take the plunge, now you need to ask…

What genre are you going to write?

Crime, romance, paranormal, steampunk, fantasy, erotica, contemporary fiction, goths, thrillers….the list is huge- and expanding all the time.

Which age group/gender are you targeting?

Adults? Teenagers? Children? Men? Women? Everyone?

Let’s get practical!

Where will you write?

At home, in the local café, the library, or a hired office?

What medium will you chose?

Paper, computer, tablet, phone, dictation?

Will you approach an agent, a publisher, or self publish?

And- most boringly practical of all- can you manage your own marketing?

Don’t forget if you don’t market your writing, then all your hard work will have been wasted. No one will know your book exists if you don’t wave your flag! So, love it r hate, you will need to get to grips with social media.

***

Happy questioning!

Jenny xx

 

 


Bring it On…

There’s no need for me to say things like “2016 was just so awful….” Hardly anyone would argue that it wasn’t a pretty big disaster all round the world stage. So, enough said.

2017 now lays ahead of us like a pristine blank notebook, just waiting for the world’s storytellers to fill it up.

OK- so they’ll be more political chaos etc- but here in my own small corner of book land, there is much to look forward to.

For a start I have 2 brand new novels coming out during 2017 – one as Jenny Kane, and one as Jennifer Ash.

My Jenny Kane novel comes out in June, and will be entitled Abi’s Neighbour – the sequel of my bestselling novel, Abi’s House. I will have a cover for you to look at shortly (I’ve seen it already- and I love it!), as well as a blurb. All I can tell you at the moment is that the main characters, Abi, Max, Beth, Jacob and Stan, are still in Sennen Cove in Cornwall- along with a few new faces. And before anyone asks- no, I haven’t killed the dog. You’d be amazed how many emails I got asking me not to kill off Sadie, Stan’s Golden Retriever. As if I would!

My Jennifer Ash book this year will be a full length novel which carries on a few months after the end of the novella, The Outlaw’s Ransom. The new novel, The Winter Outlaw, will be out in November. It is that novel I’m working on at the moment. So I’m starting 2017 by doing a rewrite of the first draft of the book which will probably end up being the last publication of the year.

Along with these two novels, I also have short stories and a novella coming out under my adult pen name.

In between the editing and writing, I’ll be teaching as many writing workshops as I can squeeze into the days, drafting yet another novel (not saying what that’s about yet….), and taking on freelance writing assignments.

2017 is only a few days old, but it’s already shaping up to be one of the busiest yet, and after the publication of Another Glass of Champagne, The Outlaws’ Ransom, Jenny Kane’s Christmas Collection, and several other pieces for the ‘other’ me in 2016, I wouldn’t have thought that possible!

Happy reading,

Jenny/Jennifer x

 


Guest Blog from Lucy V Hay – 3 HABITS OF EFFECTIVE BOOK REVIEWERS

Today I’m joined by my friend and Devon Writers business partner, Lucy V Hay – this is advice you can’t afford to ignore.

Over to you Lucy…

3 HABITS OF EFFECTIVE BOOK REVIEWERS

by @LucyVHayAuthor

1)They know what they like. I’m a big ‘grip lit’ fan – in other words, I’m most interested in female protagonists who are probably NOT police (or other related authoritative figures). I like mysteries, thrillers, unreliable narrators and characters who are not your ‘usual’, meaning I like diverse casts and I don’t feel have to necessarily ‘like’ characters to relate to their journeys. Plot-wise, I like strong concepts and prefer a fast pace with unexpected twists and turns. I favour psychological torment over actual graphic violence generally speaking. In terms of writing style, I like prose that’s lean, visual and sharp, almost literary.

That’s not to say I never read male protagonists, police procedurals or novels with torture and splatter in. I even read romance from time to time! But I favour ‘grip lit’ because ultimately I want to be entertained. Obvious, really!

effective book bloggers

BOOK REVIEWER TOP TIP: Know who you are, what you like and let people know – then you’re more likely to be approached by publishers, small presses and individual authors who have ARCs you would love to read.

2) They know their opinion is one of many. I don’t see the point in ‘hate reading’, so I always stop reading if I am not enjoying a book.  My time is limited as a busy working Mum of three, why would I waste it on something I am not enjoying? What’s more, I never review books I haven’t finished. But most importantly, I recognise that just because I don’t like a book, doesn’t mean someone else won’t LOVE it! As book reviewers, we have to realise our opinion is just one of many.

BOOK REVIEWER TOP TIP: If you’re not enjoying a book, why not pass the baton on to another reader? You could always say to the ARC giver, ‘this wasn’t for me, but I think X would love it’.

3) They have a strategy. I keep a record of the books I’m reading and have read via my Goodreads page, plus I share my top crimefiction picks based around a theme on my ‘Best of 3’ feature on my blog. I also try and post to my blog at least twice a week, plus five or six times in Facebook groups and Twitter chats about reading and writing. In other words, in any given week, my fellow readers should hear approximately ten times from me.

But it’s NOT all about me and what *I* like: I also invite fellow crime fiction fans to submit THEIR ‘Best of 3’ picks to my blog, plus I also invite authors and screenwriters to take part in an interview feature called Criminally Good. Once a month, I’ll do an author chat on my FB page, CRIME, INK too

BOOK REVIEWER TOP TIP: Decide in advance how you will build up your platform. And try and stick to the 80/20 rule – if you’re talking about yourself and your site 20% of the time, make sure you’re taking about others (and their books or picks!) 80% of the time!

Good luck out there!

***

Lucy Hay

BIO: @LucyVHayAuthor is currently writing her first psychological thriller novel. She is also a script editor for movies and has written the nonfiction book, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays (Kamera Books). Join The Criminally Good Book Club to sign up for news, offers and giveaways.

Devon Writers

***

Many thanks Lucy.

Jenny x


The Importance of Instant Impact

There are many rules in the construction of good story. One of the most important is the art of instant impact- the art of capturing the attention of your readers/potential readers as quickly as possible.

Take your lead from the balladeers and the storytellers of history. If they didn’t impress the audience who gathered to hear their tales by the end of the second line they’d uttered, then they wouldn’t earn enough money to eat that night.

writing woman

For the modern writer this lesson is a good one. There are so many books in the world that, if you don’t take a firm grip of your reader’s imagination within the first two or three paragraphs (if not sentences), then the chances of you selling your work is automatically harder. If not impossible. Editors and agents read hundreds of first paragraphs each month. If you don’t engage them straight away they won’t read more than a few pages. Consequently, every single word you have written after page four is in danger of being nothing but a waste of time.

ripping paper

Here are a few ways to create instant impact and grab that elusive audience- and hopefully keep them grabbed!

Start with some powerful first line dialogue. Something that makes you want to know what follows, and why what is being said, is being said. Such as…

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” – (Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier)

Add immediate tension by starting in the thick of the action. Such as…

Dr Clouston could barely keep himself on the seat. The wheels of his carriage kept cracking over humps and puddles, breaking the night’s silence as they rode frantically towards Dundee.  –  (The Strings Murder, Oscar de Muriel)

Build a scene on paper that draws the reader in so much, that they want to be there- or that leaves them feeling relieved that they aren’t.  Such as…

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.” – (A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens)

Start with a sentence that makes sense- but makes the reader need to keep going to find out what on earth is going on. Such as…

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” – (1984, George Orwell)

Begin with an intriguing recollection. A situation that your novel will later explain. Such as…

“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” – (One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez)

Keep calm and write on

Happy writing,

Jenny x

 

 

 


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