“People don’t care about an idea, but they might care about a person with an idea.”
I must hook readers with a character. They must care about him/her from the first page if not the first paragraph or even the first letter of the first word.
Hmm, too ambitious. How about this:
Ishkur dances for life as his audience stabs and grabs. A spontaneous performance answering an ambush that interrupted the half-elf’s revere.
I’ve written as a hobby for a long time, but now that I’m publishing refining my storytelling has become essential. I can’t get by with Nanowrimo stream of consciousness. This isn’t just therapy anymore; this is business, and I need to get better at it.
Destiny’s Hand hasn’t caught readers’ interest. It’s been hard to see it sit mostly unread, but I am thankful for the lesson.
Storytelling trumps setting, plot, characters, and even quality of writing. It is more important than anything else to get read.
It has a good beginning I think:
Artim Drakkin’s left hand shakes. He’s woken standing over a body on the floor. Naked and sweaty with an unfocused anxiety, he doesn’t know what he did.
It seems to loose people with shifts in point of view and a prolonged conversation between protagonists to set the stage.
I also think I got too descriptive:
Artim and Katelle lie together in a soft bed that fills the love pod like water frozen while splashing in a bucket. Sweat dries in artificially low humidity as their hearts slow to match their languishing. Deep breaths express contentment, and they absorb the meditative moment.
I can write beautiful prose, and readers can enjoy the flow and imagery, but novels are a magnitude larger than poems or songs. To reliably hold a reader for hundreds of pages they need to be hooked on protagonists and antagonists, characters that they can get emotionally invested in.
Storytelling can reel in the reptilian brain.
Working on my swing.
After I’ve made a page turner, I’ll come back to Destiny’s Hand and streamline it with my adjusted style. It will be the same story with the same characters, just told in a more engaging way.
A solid attempt but got too complicated and not enough fun early on:
A man marvels at the golden hilt covered with specks of red as the length of its blade splits his soured heart. A betrayer presses a muddy boot down on his chest to pull it free with a pearl white gauntlet. Blood sprays as numbness replaces pain, dark replaces gray and bleating animals replace mocking laughter.
It’s better spoken.
An audio attempt on a draft of the first chapter garnered some appreciation and a lot of teasing from friends. It was fun and I plan to make audio versions of everything I publish.
My son still believes.
Almost everyday my five-year-old son asks me to tell him more of the “Seeke story”. The main character of Seeker of Truth is based on him, and he’s very invested.
Still I’m putting it aside half-finished to build up the background with a book that takes place earlier in the timeline. It’s a less complicated setting, which I hope will translate into easier storytelling.
I seem stuck on violence as a first hook. Maybe I should flavor that with more personality:
Ishkur preens in the sun as his sweat-soaked armor dries on a log. With a heaving breath he trills and sings a song of bells and chimes. His elvish has the deep resonance of his human half rather than the birdsong lightness it’s intended for. A few of the men coming out of the tall grass cover their ears and wear scowls with matching sneers.
“Ah critics with spears. Don’t worry, I get the point.”
More fun but this Ishkur sounds too mature for this point in time. I don’t want to sacrifice everything for good storytelling. I want to be proud of what I’ve written.
“Are you a planner or pantser?”
I got this question and had to look up “pantser” to understand it’s writing by the “seat of my pants” and is just asking if I outline or not.
I also think that writing organically is essential for good storytelling. It doesn’t have to be an either or. I can wear pants while I outline.
Ishkur of my current project is based on a DnD character my brother played within a campaign I DM’d for several years. I keep him alive in my head and have him run through the sparse scripted outline. My mind fills in the details as Ishkur explores, and I often have to adjust the script to keep him happy.
I write in present tense, which I think is a modern form of storytelling that’s acceptable because of movies and role-playing games.
Essentially I try to live the story in my head with the characters being real enough to make a mental health professional nervous.
So, look for my next published book in November of this year and see if I can hook you.