This new novel I’m starting would be my seventh novel, not including any that I shred or gave up on long ago. The first novel published was Pandora’s Box, the second, The Bohemian Life. Then I finished two more novels, Magical Diaries and Servant of the Secret Fire. I’m almost finished with my fifth novel, A Siren’s Lament. And as I’ve noticed in the past new story ideas begin to take seed and blossom before I finish. As I begin each new novel, it overlaps with finishing the one prior to it. I’m only 100 pages into the sixth novel, The Magic Theater, but this new idea feels like it has more energy right now, so I’m going to trust the energy and flow with it.
The purpose of this post is to share some things I’ve learned over the years about the process of novel writing. It’s also the beginning of a series of posts about creative writing in which I will focus on lessons I’m learning from reading The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.
Each post will focus on a specific element of narrative writing and storytelling. Let’s start at the beginning, looking at the way Ms. Collins started each of the three novels. The first thing you’ll notice is that she’s very concrete. There are words like “cold,” “warmth” and “frozen air”. The opening paragraph paints a vivid scene right off the bat. There is conflict: the day of the reaping, the possibility of being attacked by a pack of wild dogs, a day she’s been dreading for months, a house burned down.
As an exercise, see if you can write an opening paragraph with vivid imagery, concrete sensual detail, and conflict while at the same time giving us a sense of the character(s), setting, and action.
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