Tag Archive - Series

Considerations for the First Page of Your Novel

I hope you know why it’s so important to craft a terrific first page. Surely if your first page is awful, it’s likely your reader won’t read further. And that’s a bad thing.

When we realize that literary agents often won’t read beyond the first paragraph if it doesn’t spark interest, it puts a lot of pressure on us writers to come up with a stellar first page.

But it doesn’t and can’t stop there. A great first page is not going to make up for the next three hundred blah pages.

While there is a ton to learn about scene and novel structure (and my blog contains something like a million words of instruction on those topics, so dig in!), there are some key lessons to learn about fiction writing from focusing on the first page.

Why? Because the elements on a first page should (and usually do) reflect the quality of writing in the rest of a novel. In other words, you can’t just work hard to make that first page sing and then ignore the rest of your manuscript.  Continue Reading…

Tips to Crafting a Successful Novel Series

Many authors plan to write a series, but I’ve noticed when critiquing and editing novels that are part of a series, they often fail to keep in mind important elements that may not pertain to a stand-alone novel. Navigating through a series can be a kind of obstacle course, keeping focus through the many story developments to reach the finish line.

I’m not talking about a series of stand-alone novels that just feature the same character(s) but in different situations, such as in a mystery series showcasing a particular detective. In novels like those, just as with many TV series episodes, the plot is set up, developed, and resolved all in one book.

However, even in such series, you’ll often see characters grow and change. There may be long-term overarching storylines involving the characters that play out over many books.

There is no hard-and-fast rule regarding how to craft a series, but there are some things a writer should be careful to do.

Each Book Must Have a Plot That Resolves

Just as with a singular work, a first book in a series needs to present the characters and their goals and needs. The basic novel structure applies—a protagonist going after a goal, with him either reaching or failing to reach that goal at the climax.

When writing a book series, it is important to know that each book must have its own plot, one that is concluded by the end of the book. You can’t assume readers have read your first book. And even if they have, it may have been a year ago, and they aren’t going to remember all the details. Odds are they will end up confused and frustrated if you make that assumption. Continue Reading…

First Pages of Best-Selling Novels: Closer to the Heart

I couldn’t resist including one of my favorite fantasy author’s novels. I’ve read most of Mercedes Lackey’s books, as have both my daughters. While they were teenagers, I think we passed her novels around the way we passed the chips and salsa. She is a master at creating believable fantasy worlds, and her world of Valdemar long stays in my mind, decades after reading dozens of her novels those many years ago.

Lackey has a very distinct, simple storytelling style, and does a great job at getting into character.  I thought Closer to the Heart would be a nice first-page example from this prolific author.

So let’s jump in, and then we’ll use my first-page checklist to examine what elements she’s nailed on this first page.

Note this is book 2 in one of her (many) series, and as we discussed in last week’s post, it’s important in a series to ensure new readers won’t have trouble getting into the story, as well as avoid too much “catching up” and telling what’s happened before the present action of the new installment. Continue Reading…

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