Last night’s Writing Race with LA Larkin was simply awesome!
LA shared so many excellent writing tips, including the necessity of having a strong beginning:
‘I would like to share some thoughts I have on writing strong opening chapters. This is critical, not only to get the attention of a publisher, but also to hook potential readers in the bookshop, when they are deciding whether or not to purchase your novel.
‘I can probably talk best about opening chapters if I use my own one as an example:
"He kicked the leather chair away and instantly the rope snapped tight. He hadn’t thought of the pain when he’d threaded the rope through the light fitting and tested it could bear his one hundred and ten kilos. His throat crushed, he couldn’t call out even if he’d wanted to. His lungs burned and the veins in his face felt close to bursting. His brown eyes bulged as if in surprise. Which, of course, it wasn’t. He had to die: it was his only option."
‘I wanted an arresting and striking visual image in the very first sentence. I wanted the emotion to come across: the pain and fear of suffocating to death by hanging. I wanted above all to raise a question: why does this man think he has to die? What has he done that is so terrible? And that question will be answered later in the story. It’s all about a strong hook, I believe.
‘I can recommend a book called The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. I read it when I first started writing novels. A lot of what he talks about might seem very obvious but sometimes we all get so caught up in our work that we can’t see the wood for the trees and we need to take a step back and ask questions like, Am I using clichés? Am I overusing adjectives and should I be using adverbs at all? Have I identified clearly who is the central character in the early chapters and have I allowed the reader time to get to know him or her? Is my dialogue realistic but not mundane? Does it flow well when I read it aloud? And the biggie…do I show the reader, rather than tell? It’s a good book to flick through.’
LA also advocated the importance of choosing subject matter that’s important to the writer:
‘If you don’t love what you’re writing, then it’s very hard to keep focused and to keep writing. My first thriller, The Genesis Flaw, was a story I just had to tell, as it touches on topics I feel very passionately about: not growing genetically modified foods in Australia and the terrifying power of global corporations. My next thriller, set in Antarctica, to be released in 2012 and called Thirst, is a climate change catastrophe thriller, and yes, you guessed it! I’m very worried about the future impacts of climate change. It’s my passion for these topics as well as my love of thrillers, which drive me to write almost every day.
‘If any of you want to stay in touch, my website tells you what I’m up to. It’s at www.lalarkin.com
‘Good luck and never give up!’