By: Ratna Vira
It is time for some adventure, a leap of faith in our ability to write. Those who have not read the previous columns but are committed to writing a novel or may want just to explore – this space is for you. May I suggest that you scroll through the previous columns to feel what I am saying?
Read the first Lesson 1 here: HOW to WRITE a BESTSELLER! A bestselling author reveals!
Then read Lesson 2: Part 2: HOW to WRITE a BESTSELLER!
And Lesson 3: How to write a mind-blowing chartbuster: Begin with a BANG! Start your book with a powerful QUESTION!
I do believe that each one of us has a book in them. And that with a little effort mixed with hard work and focus, there are beautiful stories out there that will hopefully find their way on to a page.
Enjoy writing! And that is possible only if you focus on the story you really want to write because it may not get completed any other way.
Also Read: Artist RATNA VIRA: The BRILLIANT self-taught Indian artist to watch out for! (Also a celebrated author!)
Watch out for the little things that may spark your creativity. Often people look for the big prompts, but it could be something as mundane as talking to an elderly aunt, or a headline is taken out of context that literally propels you on a journey … What if …? That may eventually become your first chapter.
It is a good idea to take a minute to think about the books you have read or the movies you have watched, prompting you to think about your book. This dhobi list will help you analyse what you are ultimately aiming for by connecting the common thread running through everything. A pattern may emerge, which will help tremendously in structuring your ideas.
Now let us dive into the exciting part – Chapter One. This chapter is critical in the book’s development, and it could make or break your novel. Like the book’s logline, it may be useful to summarise what happens in the opening chapter in a sentence.
Take some time to describe what you want to achieve, in about a page at most.
Do not get influenced by a bestseller or your favourite movie. You have something special to offer the world and are a unique writer. So, without worrying about style and nuance, jot down how you intend to draw the reader into your world. Read as you write. Have the conviction to see your manuscript unfold even on the days when writing becomes a chore. When you have a gut feeling about something, hold on to it and explore it further. Our intuition seldom lets us down.
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Chapter One is the magnet that will draw the reader into the story and keep them flipping the pages. Aim at writing 2,500 words and ensure that you have an outline of how the chapter begins and ends.
A rule of thumb is to make the beginning captivating and the middle engaging, so that the reader is forced to turn the page and begin Chapter Two. So, the book’s success must get Chapter One right. If you can plant in the reader’s mind an inescapable sense of intrigue that can’t be ignored, you have successfully baited him.
A few conventions that a first-time writer may find useful are given below.
• Paragraphs may be long, but each should contain a single thought or sequence of action. This makes for easier reading and is a personal choice.
• However, each line of dialogue must be contained in its own paragraph.
• Do make a note that if it’s a conversation, each response needs a new paragraph.
• For example, if you have a conversation with each character having several lines, you might easily have 14 or 15 short paragraphs.
• It is useful for some non-dialogue description to be part of a dialogue.
Like your story has its unquestionable beginning, middle, and end, so also do your chapter and all other chapters have their own three-part structure.
Once you dive into Chapter One, do take a moment to ask yourself the most fundamental questions – What am I writing and for whom is this being written? It is vital to keep the reader in mind and therefore be clear about the reader demographics. This profile may change as you write, and you may expand the scope and appeal of your book as the story unfolds.
As with the complete manuscript, it is vital to figure out another critical factor that contributes to the book’s success – How do you want the reader to feel when they finish reading the last chapter?
And apply this thought to Chapter One, because this is your chance to welcome the reader into the world you create with the magic of your words.
For those of you who may want to read on the art of writing, Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird may be a good starting point.
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