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Understanding Premise and the One-Sentence Story Concept

Over the last few weeks we’ve been taking a look at key moments in your novel’s structure. This week, before we get into the meat of my 10-20-30 Scene Builder concept, I want to make sure you have a clear understanding of premise and the one-sentence story structure.

We really can’t move forward until you have this nailed, so I’ll do my best to help you get there.

Most writers are clear about the inciting incident or initial disturbance that has to come near the start of the book. Yet, I see way too many novels in which there really isn’t a strong impacting incident. Or it’s in the wrong place.

I recently did a fifty-page critique on a novel (which wasn’t the author’s first novel either) that had fifty pages of setup. Backstory. Telling all about how the characters met, fell in love, got married, etc. What was the stated premise? Basically, it told of a man who has something precious taken from him and must face danger and horror to get that thing back. Huh? What did the first fifty pages have to do with any of that? Nothing. Continue Reading…

First Pages of Best-Selling Novels: The Selection

Each week, we’ve been taking a look at the first page of best-selling novels of various genres and seeing how they measure up to my first-page checklist.

This week, I grabbed a Young Adult title that’s gone ballistic, launching a series that has teens drooling for more. Kiera Cass’s The Selection is listed under the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre, but is more accurately slotted in the Dystopian subgenre for teens.

One reviewer calls Cass’s series “Reality TV meets dystopian fairy tale.” And another describes it as a cross between The Hunger Games and The Bachelor (TV show) but without the blood and guts.

While I considered looking at the current volume (The Crown), which is also a big best seller, I thought it a good idea to examine the first book’s first page. Continue Reading…

First Pages of Best-Selling Novels: Support and Defend

I promised you last week that I’d give you a much better, stronger first page, and so I jumped at Tom Clancy’s big seller of 2015: Support and Defend.

But wait, Tom Clancy didn’t write this novel. Mark Greany did. He’s written a number of “Clancy” books.

Wikipedia states that since Clancy can’t write books fast enough to please his readers, his publisher decided to bring on board other authors to help fill the demand. If only all our books had that kind of demand!

How do you feel about reading novels that are meant to sound like a particular author? I read a novel in Herbert’s Dune series that was penned after Herbert died. I thought the book was boring and didn’t do justice to Herbert’s series. Continue Reading…

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