Feature Friday: Writing the First Chapter

There are some who find the last chapter to be the most difficult. There are a few who struggle through the middle. For most, however, the first chapter is the hardest to get out there. There’s good reason for this. The first chapter is what draws, drags, or defers. Either it is so clever that the reader must read; it is acceptable enough that the reader chooses to read; or it is so bad that the reader refuses to read. But no pressure. Really. See, the nice things about first chapters (and first lines) is that you have the most time to get them right. You have the entire time you’re writing the book through the editing process through just before publication. That’s a lot of time. (Longer for some, say, whose last name is Martin, than some others.) “I don’t edit while I’m writing.”  Very smart of you. Really. Just try this with me for one work, though. Edit that first chapter. Here’s why: if your first chapter does what it should (set up the story), then you have an easier task ahead of you. Instead of dragging the story uphill to get to the first plot point, your…

WorkIt Wednesday: The Five-2K Challenge
WorkIt Wednesday / May 18, 2016

I’m going to put a challenge out there for everyone. I’ve already made it to certain friends. Now I’m opening it to you. For the next year (or one year from whenever you decide to start), do the Five2K challenge: Write 2k Run/ walk 2k Edit 2k Read 2k Eat 2k calories (2000 calories) Do this daily for one year (52 weeks). Tag your progress with #Five2K. Miss a day? Don’t stress. Make up your 2k on another day. 2k walking or running is only 1.29 miles or so. Do a little extra one day and “bank” it toward another day. Didn’t write enough? Have a marathon writing session and get in 10k at some point. Same with editing. 2k words is, roughly, eight pages, although your average will vary. Do it for the fun of it and as a way to push yourself. Do it for the cool name. Are you with me?

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Just Write… Wrong
A to Z Blog Challenge / April 12, 2016

There is advice going around that tells new writers to just write. They’ll get better if they just write.  I’m going to go out on my own personal soapbox (which is teetering, because who needs a box of soap big enough to stand on?) and say, no. Don’t just write and think you’re going to get better. Let’s see how that works in other occupations: Just do taxes. Eventually you’ll get it right. Just treat patients. Eventually you’ll learn medicine. Just slap paint on the canvas. Eventually you’ll make a pretty picture. I could go on, but that would be silly… just like the advice. You can’t “just write” and think you’ll be a better writer. Here’s what you can do to be a better writer: Write daily until it becomes a habit. The habit will serve you well. Read about writing. If you’re not regularly reading “how to write” or grammar books, taking courses, or learning more about the craft, it’s going to be very hard to improve. Critique and edit your own writing. Critique and edit others’ writing (it’s easier to see the parts that need a rewrite when it’s not your own). Have other people critique and…