Jenny Kane: Coffee, cupcakes, chocolate and contemporary fiction / Jennifer Ash: Medieval crime with hints of Ellis Peters and Robin Hood

Category: writing tips Page 2 of 3

Dealing with the Rollercoaster: A Writer’s Guide to Handling Disappointment

There is simply no avoiding it- writing and disappointment goes hand in hand.

This could be shortest blog ever, because the best advice I can give any writer or aspiring writer is to believe nothing you are promised until you see it in black and white, on a piece of real paper, with signatures on it.

roller coaster

I am aware this sounds cynical, but in fact it is just the reality of the publishing business. Incredible offers are frequently made, and frequently taken away again. I’ve had people offer me the moon in one moment and then taken it away the next. It’s how it is.

These points might help you prepare for those ‘disappointment lows’ –

-Never forget an editor/agent/ publisher is in the business to make money first, and make you (and all the other authors on their books) successful second.

-A genuine promise made in the heat of a friendly conversation will probably never be upheld because circumstances change in publishing on an almost daily basis.

-Getting a contract is 100% incredible, but the come down after your book comes out and doesn’t instantly sell thousands can be hard to take- don’t worry about it- it’s a normal reaction. Market your own work. Use every PR opportunity given- I refer you to my post on books being invisible.

 

The golden rule is to be patient- work hard- and accept there will be massive highs and massive lows. When the lows come, have a strategy to deal with them- pick a place to walk where you can get lost in the scenery- go out with friends- do a top up your wardrobe by holding a cheap and cheerful raid of your nearest charity shop. Whatever makes you happy- do just that. Remember the next high won’t be far away if you keep working at it.

Disappointment

I think my favourite low was when a major publisher (who I will not name), told me I would never be successful because I wrote too intelligently; that I was too broadsheet and wasn’t tabloid enough. I don’t know who that is more insulting to- me or my readers. I was gutted at the time, but I laugh about it now.  

So the moral of this blog is this- if you want to be a writer you will be disappointed often- but the highs, when they come, are so worth it.

Good luck out there every one. Don’t give up!!

Jenny x

www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk 

 

 

 

Imagine Retreating

Last week, in the beautiful autumn sunshine, the first Imagine writing retreat to took place at Northmoor House, Exmoor – and what a week it was!

With 6 full-week guests,  4 part-week visitors and 2 very special guests (FaberFaber novelist Kate Griffin and Bloosmbury children’s writer, Dan Metcalf), it was nonstop creativity- be it writing, thinking, reading, tutoring or drawing.

Most of all, it was fantastic to be with so many talented folk in such incredible surroundings.

Our days were split into mealtimes (delicious food was provided by the brilliant Eve- caterer extraordinaire), optional one-to-one tutor sessions with myself or my Imagine partner in crime, Alison Knight, and free time to write.

The most important thing Alison and I wanted to provide at Northmoor, was the freedom to do as much, or as little as each guest wanted. Space to simply be.

Here are just a few photographs of the house, our guests, and a glimpse of the extensive grounds. (With thanks to our guests for sharing these pictures).

Dan Metcalf

Kate Griffin

If you’re sorry you missed out, then keep an eye on the Imagine website. The 2019 retreat date will be posted in the next few weeks.

Thanks to everyone who came along.

It was a joy.

Jenny x

A summer of events

The summer, dare I say it, is almost over – and what a busy couple of months it’s been. From children’s writing workshops, to freezing cold festival fields and a singles club- I’ve encountered them all.

There’s no doubt that summer is my busiest time of the year- and the most rewarding.

This year I was lucky enough to teach three children’s writing workshops for Devon Libraries (Cullompton, South Molton and Crediton), as part of the Summer Reading Scheme for 2018, on the subject of ‘Mischief Makers’. I was heartened and impressed by the range of stories the children created and I’m happy to report that the next generation’s imagination is alive and well. (They also have a much firmer grasp on the stories of Dennis the Menace than I do- my memory of the Beano has certainly slipped with age!)

The children of Barnstaple also proved their imagination is in tiptop shape, when I taught a creative writing class at St Anne’s Community Centre (a 10 week series of writing classes for children begins there in September- email me at imaginecreativewriting.com for details).

In July, I was invited to teach a short story writing workshop at the Chudleigh Literary Festival. A wonderful event; I had a great day surrounded by loads of talented writers, special guests and book lovers. Huge thanks to Elizabeth Ducie for inviting me along.

Last weekend I, along with many of my fellow Exeter Author Association members (PJ Reed, Richard Dee, Tracey Norman, Mark Norman and Susie Williamson), returned to Chilcompton for their annual fringe festival.

In 2017, when we attended Chilcompton, it was so hot that some of us suffered from heat sickness. This year that was never going to be a problem. To say it rained doesn’t really do the persistent and heavy downpour that lasted all day, justice.

Dressed as characters from out books, we all looked the part; from elf, to steampunk man, to medieval lady and beyond…however…as we were freezing cold we rather overdid the layers. Six layers in my case- and you can tell!

Never ones to give up easily, the EAA carried on regardless! Our talk audiences were rather smaller than usual, but the smiles were still wide. I had great fun talking to this little gathering about Robin Hood. Fingers crossed for a mild dry day next year!

As well as my usual workshops, my summer events finished off with an author talk to the Young at Heart singles club in St Sidwells, Exeter. Chatting away about how my writing career began was great fun. It soon became clear that a couple of the ladies in the group had always wanted to write, but had never been brave enough. By the time I left one had written the start of a short children’s story, and another had told a whole story via answering random questions. Fantastic!

Thank you to everyone who has hosted both me and my fellow EAA members this summer.

Now- if you’ll excuse me I’d better go and edit my next novel…

Happy reading,

Jenny

Bampton Charter Fair

Next week, on 26th October, I’m delighted to say I will be at the Bampton Charter Fair, selling my books, reading, and giving talks to adults and children about my work, and the joy of playing with words.

I will be with my fellow authors from the Exeter Author Association- you’ll be able to find us in the Community Hall on Station Road, conveniently next to a café and a nonstop supply of coffee!

The Devonshire Bampton Charter Fair has been an established tradition for centuries. here’s what the official Charter Website has to say-

Bampton Fair existed even before King Henry III granted it a Royal Charter in 1258 and it is always held on the last Thursday of October. It is one of the oldest surviving Charter Fairs in the country.

For centuries, the fair mainly sold sheep and cattle and was the largest sheep fair in the South West of England. During the 1880’s to the 1980’s it evolved to become the famous Bampton Pony Fair trading in Exmoor ponies.
Today this traditional Devon fair continues to attract local producers of foods and livestock, crafts and traditional skills from Exmoor and its surrounding villages. The streets, church, pubs and venues of Bampton are filled to over flowing with around 100 stalls, entertainments  including craft and music workshops, demonstrations and concerts, and funfair.

Opening from 9am, the Charter Fair regularly attracts in the region of 10,000 visitors- so why not come along and join the fun, pick up a few early Christmas presents, and hear a story or two along the way.

Hope to see you there!

Jenny xx

Penzance Literary Festival

It’s good to be back where I belong; tucked away with a huge black Americano, toast and marmalade, after three days away as a contributor to the Penzance Literary Festival.

My adventure began last Thursday when I left Tiverton Parkway (only slightly delayed), and travelled the rail line to Cornwall. The scenery between Devon and Cornwall is stunning, and my plans to work as I went along were quickly scuppered in the face of the beauty of South West England.

As you’ll know if you read my previous blog, that coming down to Penzance was a big deal for me.  I hadn’t been there for 20 years, and I was unprepared for how emotional my arrival there would make me feel. More details about that here – http://wp.me/p75ZD9-WA

Acorn Theatre

Having found my guesthouse and left my luggage in the owner’s reliable hands, I took the advice of one of the literary festivals organisers, the lovely Teresa Benison, and headed to the Honey Pot Cafe. This was conveniently placed directly opposite the Acorn theatre – location of the panel I was due to appear on at three that afternoon.

I can’t recommend the Honey Pot Cafe enough- if you happen to be in Penzance at any time, make sure you pop in.

Anyway – the panel I sat on, with the illustrious novelist Liz Fenwick and YA novelist Christopher Vick, was enormous fun. Teresa hosted the panel, which was based on the theme of authors setting their books in Cornwall. I happily chatted about Abi’s House and Abi’s Neighbour, while Liz shared the background to her new novel, The Returning Tide (incredible story) and Chris talked about Storms, his new YA novel (a must read).

Teresa Beniton, Jenny Kane, Liz Fenwick

On the Friday I had no festival responsibilities. Instead I had my coffee shop blogger hat on. Travelling through the sheering heat (we were blessed with incredible weather) I moved around Penzance, sampling coffee and nibbling cake. I rather love my job sometimes! All the resulting blogs will appear on my Have Americano and Pen…Will Travel blog over the next few weeks. Check out the first one here.

As much as I enjoyed the panel I took part in, not to mention listening to the other visiting authors and poets (the poetry event on the Thursday night was amazing- and diverse! I’ve never heard poems about dissecting David Bowie before- unusual….), the highlight for me was the life writing class I taught on Saturday morning.

Based in the fascinating Morrab Library, within the Morrab Sub-Tropical Gardens, I was in my element. Surrounded by works of nonfiction that went back decades, 15 intrepid creative writing workshoppers came in. All smiling- some clearly nervous and wondering what on earth they’d let themselves in for- others clearly confident; every chair filled, and we were soon ready to launch into the world of fictionalising our lives and personal experiences.

Morrab Sub-Tropical Garden

I’m not sure which memory from that class will stay with me the longest.

The wonderful lady whose imagination decided that her ice cream didn’t want to be an ice cream, but wanted to be fruit pieces instead.

The terror so perfectly described by the gentleman whose memory of his first day at school involved lining up outside his classroom while his teacher flipped his cap off with a cane because it wasn’t quite straight.

The two friends who came in giggling, laughed all the way through the class, and left with even wider smiles- having produced some incredible writing along the way.

The Australian traveller who summed up how it feels to be a young woman trying to please the world via the medium of a scoop of Neapolitan ice cream…

They were a dream class to teach. So much talent- so much potential. I look forward to seeing some future short story competition winners and novelists amongst them.

Morrab Library

My time in Penzance was over all too quickly. I would like to thanks Teresa, Linda, Barbara, and all the organisers and stewards who made my visit so much fun. Special thanks must go to the lovely chap who wrestled with the projector and its screen for me at Morrab Library – and to the kind library staff for providing tea, coffee and cake for my workshoppers.

Thanks must also go to the Edge of the World Bookshop on Market Jew Street, Penzance. The friendly and wonderful folk who work there not only managed to order loads of my books, but kindly displayed them at both my events as well as displaying lots of them in their bookshop. There is a never ending thrill in knowing my books sit on bookshop shelves.

Penzance Literary Festival is styled as the country’s most friendly literary festival with good reason.

Roll on next year’s event.

 

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 

 

 

Tiverton Literary Festival: 22nd-25th June

I am proud to be able to announce that the third Tiverton Literary Festival is only a few days away!

Started in 2015 by myself, Susie Griggs and Kerstin Muggeridge – I am delighted to see the festival going from strength to strength.

After two years at the helm, Kerstin and I have taken a step back to attend our families and our books (well, both actually) and the festival is now in the capable hands of Rachel Gee, Susie Griggs and Caro Bushnell.

The new team have got a fantastic line up- you will not want to miss out.

Check out the website for the full line up-

Here are a few of the events on offer…

Thursday 22nd June

7.15pm – 8.30pm.

Tiverton Library. Tickets: £5

TivLitFest Launch Event: Jane Corry in conversation with BBC journalist Simon Hall
Sunday Times bestselling psychological thriller writer Jane Corry will talk about her hit My Husband’s Wife and new book Blood Sisters with BBC South West crime correspondent Simon Hall.

Friday 23rd June

All day

Pop-up book swap @ CreaTIV Hub, Fore Street.
Pre-loved give a book, take a book event brought to you by CAG Devon Sustainable Villages.

 10am – 12 midday

Tiverton Library. Free Admission.

Author Showcase
20 authors from all over the South West all in one place, including Tiverton’s own Jenny Kane. (Ohh– me!!)  Lots of different styles and genres to suit all tastes. Come and meet some local talent and buy their books!

 

1.00 – 3.00pm

CreaTIV Hub, Fore Street. Free Admission.

Book Chat & Signing: Frank Westworth and Tyrrel Francis
Meet the authors of the Killing Sisters crime series and local combat sports drama Blood, Sweat and Tears

 

2.00 – 3.30pm.

Tiverton Library. Tickets: £15

WORKSHOP: So You Want To Be A Writer? Cathie Hartigan & Margaret James
How to give yourself the best chance of success. Have you entered competitions but got nowhere? Are those rejection letters pilling up? Read your opening paragraphs at this informal session and find out how to make your work stand out from the crowd. Come away with bags of hints and tips on how to find the best route to publication for you. Award winning writers themselves, Margaret James and Cathie Hartigan have many years of experience as creative writing teachers and competition judges. Apart from their own successful novels, they are co-authors of the #1Best Selling The Creative Writing Student’s Handbook.

4.30 – 6pm.

Elsie May’s Cafe, Phoenix Lane.

 £7.50 per child.

Elsie May’s Magical Teatime Stories: Family Event
Magical storytelling event aimed at under 10s and their families, older children welcome too. Come in your best party clothes for interactive stories, munch on high tea, make party hats, and experience magical surprises. Perhaps a tiger will come to tea!

High teas also available for adults by arrangement.
Book via facebook.com/elsiemaystiverton or call 01884 235935

7.00 – 8.00pm.

Tiverton Library. Tickets: £5

Crime Night: Rebecca Tope, L V Hay and James D Mortain
From Cosy crime in the Cotswolds, the suspense of an unsolved death in Brighton and strange goings on in North Devon our panel has something to offer all crime fiction buffs.

Saturday 24th June

All day

Brendon Books @ CreaTIV Hub, Fore Street.

New books available from the TivLitFest Book Shop, pick up titles from participating authors.

All day

Pop-up book swap @ CreaTIV Hub, Fore Street.

Pre-loved give a book, take a book event brought to you by CAG Devon Sustainable Villages.

 All day

The Oak Room Café

will be open all day for refreshments and book chat. Coffee and a cake anyone?

Meet at 10.30am.

Tiverton Library. Free: no ticket required.

Secret Story Trail: Family event
Start the trail with Amy Sparkes reading Ellie’s Magic Wellies, then visit some secret locations for more tales from Loreley Amiti and Olli Tooley. The trail ends with Exmoor Ponies writer Victoria Eveleigh at The Oak Room from 11.45am. Come in wellies or fancy dress. Free face painting from Alannah and craft session. NB. The end of the trail is not suitable for buggies. All children to be accompanied by an adult.

Start the trail with Amy Sparkes reading Ellie’s Magic Wellies, then visit some secret locations for more tales from Loreley Amiti and Olli Tooley

Loreley Amiti

11.00am-1.00pm.

Tiverton Library. Tickets: £15.

WORKSHOP: Writing for Children – Breaking Through with Amy Sparkes
A workshop with successful children’s author Amy Sparkes whose work has been published by Scholastic, Egmont and HarperCollins.

2.00-3.30pm.

Tiverton Library. Tickets: £3

Dan Metcalf – Code Breakers Workshop (age 7-11 years): Family Event
Meet author Dan Metcalf, listen to him read one of his books from the Lottie Lipton Adventures series and try your hand at code-breaking . Great fun for children aged 7-11 years.

2.00-3.00pm.

Tiverton Castle.

Tickets: £5 including refreshments

Historical Anecdotes and Research
Conversations with M J Colewood about the Chester Bentley medieval mysteries and local historian Douglas Rice about ‘The Siege of Tiverton Castle’. Sorry no wheelchair access inside the castle.

3.45pm (approx. 1 hour).

Meet at Tiverton Castle.

Free – no ticket required.

Guided History Walk – Tiverton Civic Society
Historical walking tour. Learn about Tiverton’s merchants and wool and textile heritage. The walk will end at The Oak Room where you will have the opportunity to buy refreshments.

3.30-5.00pm.

The Oak Room. Tickets: £15.

WORKSHOP: Exploring the young adult market with Alison Knight.
The market for books written for young adults (12-18 year-olds) is growing, thanks to the popularity of authors like JK Rowling, Bella Forrest and Anthony Horowitz.  As well as creating fantasy worlds that have caught the imagination of millions of teenagers and adults alike, a wide range of YA fiction also tackles life problems head on, providing emotional support and growth for young people.  Author Alison Knight will lead a workshop looking at YA stories, with writing exercises for teens and adults who are interested in writing for this market. This session is suitable for beginners and experienced writers and anyone who wants to know more about the growing YA book market.  Bring along your favourite YA book to add to the discussion! Sorry no wheelchair access at The Oak Room.

4.30 – 6.00pm.

Elsie May’s Cafe, Phoenix Lane. 

£7.50 per child

Elsie May’s Magical Teatime Stories: Family Event
Magical storytelling event aimed at under 10s and their families, older children welcome too. Come in your best party clothes for interactive stories, munch on high tea, make party hats, and experience magical surprises. Perhaps a tiger will come to tea!

High teas also available for adults by arrangement.
Book via facebook.com/elsiemaystiverton or call 01884 235935

Judi Spiers and Christopher Biggins

7.00 – 10.30pm.

The Oak Room.

Tickets £10 (includes canapes).

TivLitFest Party with Christopher Biggins, Judi Spiers & Lucy English
Showbiz legend Christopher Biggins in conversation with Judi Piers, award winning performance poet Lucy English, acoustic vibes from local music acts. Join us at this fabulous festival fundraiser and mingle with other festival supporters. Licensed bar. Over 16s only please. Sorry no wheelchair access.

Sunday 25th June

12.30 – 2.30pm.

Tiverton Town Hall. Tickets: £15

WORKSHOP: Who, what, when, where! Jenny Kane & Alison Knight
Experienced novelists Alison Knight and Jenny Kane will help you to shape four of the most vital elements for any story; be it long or short. Characters, situation, time period, and location.  For beginners and those who wish to finesse their writing technique.

2.45 – 4.00pm.

Tiverton Town Hall. Tickets: £5

Female Author Panel
Exeter Novel Prize winner Su Bristow, #1 Bestselling writer Cathie Hartigan, Jan Ellis and Alison Knight. Listen to this lively panel of women writers talk about their work and books. Refreshments available from Gin & Jam WI.

4.30 – 6.00pm.

Elsie May’s Cafe, Phoenix Lane.

£7.50 per child.

Elsie May’s Magical Teatime Stories: Family Event
Magical storytelling event aimed at under 10s and their families, older children welcome too. Come in your best party clothes for interactive stories, munch on high tea, make party hats, and experience magical surprises. Perhaps a tiger will come to tea!
High teas also available for adults by arrangement.
Book via facebook.com/elsiemaystiverton or call 01884 235935

 5.00 – 6.30pm.

Tiverton Town Hall. Tickets: £5.

Maeve Haran and Liz Fenwick in conversation with Judi Spiers
This event is sponsored by Five Cedars Health & Beauty.
International Bestseller Maeve Haran and author of sweeping Cornish sagas Liz Fenwick will be in conversation with Judi Spiers, discussing their new books An Italian Holiday and The Returning Tide. Refreshments will be available from Gin & Jam WI.

7.30-9.00pm.

Tiverton Rugby Club.

£9 in advance, £10 on the door.

Johnny Kingdom’s West Country Tales: Festival Finale
An evening with man of Exmoor Johnny Kingdom. Watch clips from his wildlife filming and listen to some West Country Tales from the very entertaining and much loved Johnny. You will also have to opportunity to buy his books, DVDs and prints and chat to the man himself! Licensed bar. Free Parking.

***

All further details are on the Tiv Lit website. www.tivertonlitfest.co.uk

You can order tickets online or you can buy tickets in person from Tiverton Library or Reapers Health Food shop on Bampton Street, Tiverton.

***

See you there!!

Jenny xx

The importance of book reviews

I have recently been blessed with some lovely reviews for my latest novel, Abi’s Neighbour.

Reviews are the only way an author can tell if he or she is ‘hitting the spot’ or not. Obviously high book sales can tell you if your book is successful – but sale figures can do no more than reflect how good your marketing is. It is feedback from your readership that tells you if your stories are actually working.

If you wrote a thriller- did it thrill?

If you wrote a romance- did it melt the heart?

If you wrote a horror- did it give your reader nightmares?

Obviously this set of questions is simplistic, but the point is- authors need to know – and way to tell them is via reviews.

Good reviews improve our standing and our professional reputations. They improve our ratings on Amazon and equivalent book selling platforms. The more good reviews an author has, the better their sales will become.

I’m not saying that you should only give good reviews. If a book has disappointed, let you down and so on, then some constructive criticism can help an author- even though it might be difficult to swallow sometimes!

What you should not do is give a poor review because…

… of poor delivery packaging (nothing to do with the author)

…the book isn’t the one you meant to purchase- (you pressed the buy button)

…you didn’t like the cover after all, so you didn’t bother reading the book etc etc

My favourite 1 star review was for Another Cup of Coffee – it was complaining about all the sex in it.

This confused me. There is a suggestion that sex might happen on two occasions within that 97,000 word book. There is no actual sex.  I dread to think what might have happened if that reviewer had accidentally purchased one of my Kay Jaybee books!!!

If you enjoy a book – PLEASE review it.

It takes up to a year to write a book for you to read in a matter of days. Any positive feedback you can give helps us! A lot.

It’s tough in the world of publishing right now. We need to help each other to keep those books coming.

Whether you leave a review on the Amazons, WHSmith, Waterstones, or the brilliant Goodreads – every single one helps.

Every single one.

And with that…I have some reviews to write for some books I’ve recently enjoyed!

Thanks you,

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 

Imagine@Hazelwood: A heavenly writing environment

The wonderful Alison Knight and myself have been very busy since we launched our creative writing business, Imagine.

This week we were welcomed to the beautiful Hazelwood Spa, in the idyllic Wiltshire village of Sutton Benger, to meet and greet clients who after a well earned pedicure or massage, might like to come along to a creative writing class.

We were made so welcome by owner and manageress Sam at the spa’s recent open evening. The friendly staff kindly let Alison take over a treatment room so we could show off our books, explain how our classes work, and eat some delicious canapes. (It’s a tough job sometimes!)

If you would like to sign up for an Imagine@Hazelwood creative writing workshop you don’t have to be a spa client- although once you’ve seen the place I defy you not to want to come back for a little something!

The classes are going to run by Alison on the second Saturday of every month. Booking is now open!

IMAGINE@HAZELWOOD WORKSHOPS

June 10           Introduction to creative writing – what are your hopes for your writing?  Looking at styles, genres, opportunities and possibilities

July 8               Who will you write about? Developing characters, writing about real people.

August 12       Where is story happening? Looking at settings – using real places in your story and creating imaginary worlds.

Sept 9             When does the action take place – past, present or future?  Looking at time – historical, contemporary, speculative (future) and time-travel.

All workshops run from 3-5pm at Hazelwood Beauty Spa, Seagry Road, Sutton Benger, SN15 4RX. Each session costs £20.  To book your place, call the spa at 01249 720964.

After September 9th new class details will be added. Just keep your eye on our web site- https://www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk/news

You can sign up to one class, just a few, or all of them. Either way, with Alison Knight at the helm, I can guarantee you’ll learn a lot, laugh a lot, and have a fun and informative few hours in beautiful surroundings.

Happy writing,

Jenny x

 

 

 

 

Imagine: creative writing courses

Last month my lovely friend Alison Knight and myself launched our own business!

As you can imagine (pun intended!), it has taken a lot of time and organisation to get our new enterprise up and running.

It has already proved to be worth every second. With a number of classes completed and many more already timetabled to take place, we are loving get out and about across the UK.

Our next two public workshops are now open for booking-

 

If you’d like more details about what we offer- or if you’d like to book us to host a workshop at your venue, or arrange a one to one lesson, then check out our web site at www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk or email Alison and myself via imaginecreativewriting@gmail.com

Keep your eyes open for news about a workshop at the forthcoming Tiverton Literary Festival as well!

I’m particularly looking forward to a private life writing class I have at the end of May in a local retirement home. After all, everyone has a story to tell, and it’s never too late to let your book writing dreams come true.

Happy writing everyone,

Jenny x

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

 

 

 

 

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