The latest genre in my series of first chapter dissections is Fantasy. As with the other books I’ve analysed, I will attempt to work out how a debut novelist managed to create an opening to his story that successfully pulls readers in.
In a composition there are a variety of techniques that can be utilized to explore the piece. One of the most dynamic means of guiding the audience through a piece is through the use of leading lines.
Leading lines are one of the top rules of visual composition and are used to great effect to guide the viewer's perspective through the piece, drawing attention to focal points and creating narrative rhythm. These lines are also can be used singularly or with additional supporting lines.
• doesn’t state the obvious—if it does, agents will think your book is all “telling,” no “showing.” • is never longer than one page—if it is, agents will think your book is overwritten. • is not about you—if it is, agents will think your book will be too navel-gazing to invite the reader in. • never sounds generic—if it does, agents will think your book won’t have a unique or appealing voice. • makes the book sound interesting—if it doesn’t, agents will know the book isn’t.
Writing advice: It can be all at once inspiring and contradictory, uplifting and off-putting, insightful and superficial. There are successful writers who impart wisdom freely and willingly, and then there are literary icons who claim to have none to dispense at all. As for the rest of us, we just can’t seem to help but look to our fellow writers who’ve achieved so much and wonder: What’s their secret?
Every story needs stakes, right? And every story needs suspense–after all, what’s the point in high stakes if you’re not worried the protagonist won’t make it there? Suspense doesn’t have to mean Hitchcock style terror–it can be King George VI’s big speech at the end of The King’s Speech, or Hugh Grant’s mad dash at the end of Notting Hill. Every book needs a will-they-or-won’t-they element, and that’s where suspense comes in.
When I turned 29, all of a sudden out of nowhere I got this feeling that I wanted to write a novel — that I could do it. I couldn’t write anything that measured up to Dostoyevsky or Balzac, of course, but I told myself it didn’t matter. I didn’t have to become a literary giant. Still, I had no idea how to go about writing a novel or what to write about. I had absolutely no experience, after all, and no ready-made style at my disposal. I didn’t know anyone who could teach me how to do it, or even friends I could talk with about literature. My only thought at that point was how wonderful it would be if I could write like playing an instrument.
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