Getting Started & Writer's Block
How is the opening?
I am a newbie writer, trying to finish my first book. Its a horror book with two novellas. I have finished the first draft of both but after that I came to know about not using 'was' and other sorts of things. I want to write a great book, but editing mine to the real standard is getting more difficult with time. I am really worried about it. Please help me.Here's the opening of my first story named Dead or Alive-
Hi, Atri! Welcome to Book Country, and thanks for posting on the Discussion Boards about the opening of your horror novel.
Just to make sure other BC members can find you, you should consider posting an intro on this forum, too. And when your book is uploaded and ready to be reviewed on Book Country, be sure and make an announcement here.
Very glad to have you here. Just sent you a connection request, and once we are connected I will be in touch with more resources to help orient you to the site. I'll also send some connection recommendations your way.
Let me know if you need anything!
Book Country Community and Engagement Manager
It takes a lot of courage to post one's work for the first time. I've been there. We cross our fingers and hope that the response will be kind, with at least a "It's a good start," to ease the pain.
I know you can guess where I'm going with this
But it's not a matter of good or bad writing, or even talent. It's that at the moment you're trying to make use of the writing skills we're all given in school, with the belief that writing is writing, and you've gotten that part out of the way. It's a mistake we all make because no one ever tells us that we learn only general skills in our primary education, writing, included. Why? because the purpose of public education is to ready us to make a living and be productive, self-supporting citizens. The problem is that employers require us to write reports, essays, and letters, all nonfiction applications, all with the goal to inform. But professional fiction writing is emotion, not fact-based. It's character not author centric because readers demand we entertain, not inform—which requires and entirely different approach, and, different compositional skills. Because we come to writing not knowing that there are several traps we all fall into, we fall into them.
First is that we try to have a "literary" voice. That resulted, in your case, in many words to say, "Sundown approached on a cloudy day."
Then, because you're focused on "telling the story" you began talking to the reader about the situation, and mention that everyone was exhausted. To you, who knows the story it makes perfect sense. But look at it from the reader's point of view. They don't yet know where they are, who they are, or what's going on. So when you talk about "us all," there is no "us" to picture, so it has no context. And as a reader wondering who's talking, and what's going on, the weather is not yet important.
See the problem? Simply because of what I've mentioned in the previous paragraph, were you to just be approaching the writing of that opening, you would probably do it differently, so as to take the reader more into account. But how much more, of equal importance, might there be that you don't yet know?
At the moment it's not that you're missing information necessary to catching and holding the reader's attention, you're not aware of the areas where you need help. You mentioned learning that you should avoid "was," but do you know why, and where it's necessary and right to use it? Are you aware of the many other words that can also distance the reader from the story? How about the three questions a reader wants answered as quickly as possible on entering a scene? And how about...
But my news isn't all bad. You already have the desire. You've demonstrated the perseverance, and that's good. What you need now is a better understanding of the various elements that make up a scene and story, and how they play together to make the reader feel as if they're experiencing the story in real-time. That's especially important in writing horror because our goal is to involve the reader so well that they're afraid to turn out the lights.
A very gentle and easy introduction to the nuts-and-bolts of writing fiction can be found in Debra Dixon's, GMC: Goal Motivation & Conflict It will make the job a lot easier, and you'll like the prose that results from the application of a bit of craft.
Hang in there, and jeep on writing.
Atri: The first thing I would recommend is that you put up your thesaurus. However much we love words, they must be used effectively to tell your story, not reflect the extent of your perceived erudition. The exasperating habit of describing a noun with a pair of dubious adjectives affords little in the way of enhancing the noun. Over-reliance on adjectives and adverbs to illustrate your story is a bad habit best to avoid. I'm an advocate of banishing the terms synonyms and antonyms, because no two words are exactly the same or exactly the opposite; we have to understand their various shadings so that any particular word is used not just properly but precisely. I suggest we view words as members of a family; the "Sneaky" family, for instance, defined in ascending order of sneakiness as furtive, covert, clandestine, surreptitious.The least secret word, furtive, is a third cousin in the family, the most secret, "surreptitious", a parent. Closely related definitions are brothers and sisters. There are twins--but never identical ones. I offer this as a prelude to your usage of "Stygian" and "Pulchritude", both parent words that could have been effectively replaced with less potent cousins.Stygian is a powerful member of the darkness family, a father, if you will; it is hellish, infernal, much too strong for your description. Murky, the word attached to Stygian, is a first cousin in the darkness family and would have sufficed all by itself. Pulchritude, a parent in the "Beauty" family, is, as with Stygian, too robust to be included in your description. A brother or sister, such as lovely or beautiful, would have been more appropriate. Please understand that there is no such devil as a big word, but while we who write love all our words, it is incumbent upon us to delineate the proper nuance of each word. Is there, as you have written, a difference between twilight and faint dusk? "Dying rays of sun," verges on being a cliche.
One last word: your phrase "Time fleeted carelessly" smacks of fine poetry. My guess is that you are an accomplished poet trapped in the notion that you were born to write prose. Once you find your proper footing, you'll become a writer to be reckoned with.