Friday, December 17, 2010

The Third Rule

So here's rule number three for you.

Rule 3: Go in easy!

I find it hard sometimes to leave out information in the beginning of a story. You may wonder why you would want to leave anything out? Well, if you tell too much right off the bat, you are leaving nothing for later. Really good authors will start right into their stories and leave things like introductions for later. Now I'm not saying there's anything wrong with introductions, but they sometimes leave the reader bogged down and not very interested. You need something quick to start them off with, maybe a smart quote or a descriptive seen. Here's some examples:

This is a smart quote one from Louis L'Amour's book Lonely on the Mountain:

"There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning."

That makes you want to read more, find out the reasons behind the quote.

For a descriptive start, I've chosen the first paragraph of Kenneth Oppel's book Airborn:

Sailing toward dawn, and I was perched atop the crow's nest, being the ships eyes. We were two nights out of Sydney, and there'd been no weather to speak of so far. I was keeping watch on a dark stack of nimbus clouds off to the northwest, but we were leaving it far behind, and it looked to be smooth going all the back to Lionsgate City. Like riding a cloud.

This sets the scene nicely, but it does not give too much information off the bat. This is the kind of setting up, I usually like to do. If you don't want to waste time at all, you can always start off right into the action. Here's the beginning of one of my own stories:

I had never used a sword before, but I have many times since. Being the daughter of one of the greatest swordsmen in the Scottish Highlands, it seemed natural enough to me. I quickly glanced over to my companion and saw his raised eye-brow as if to ask, 'should we?'. I winked back at him and then we turned to face the oncoming soldiers, our blades raised in such a way that I hoped they would think twice before meeting us today.

I put a bit of description in, but mainly, I was trying to get the story off to a start a soon as possible. A lot of times, when you start off a book like this, you will have a flash back perhaps as the next chapter to explain the circumstances of the first one. It might be a bit confusing at first, but once the readers realize what it is, they will appreciate it more.

You must realize when you are writing, that you're readers are not stupid. They can pick up on things just as well as you can. Even if you are writing children's books, you do not need to spell everything out for them. Your job is to leave clues that are not so vague you can't follow them, but vague enough so they are not simply screaming out what they are. I personally do not like to read books that state things for me. I think it's annoying. I like to be able to figure things out for myself. This is especially important if you write mysteries. A good mystery will have you guessing to the last page, a bad one, will give you all the answers before it's half done.

So when you start a book, think about what kind of beginning will work well for you. I mostly write action-adventure novels myself, so that is that I have mainly been referring to, but the same goes for all kinds of books, even simple romance stories or just day-to-day life novels. Whatever the conflict is, base your story around it and do not swamp it with unnecessary description.

As an exercise, take one of your most favorite books and read the first few chapters again, seeing how the authors takes you into the story. Write down at least five reasons why you like their writing and try to think how you can incorporate those things into you own writing. Every writer has their own style, but if you have just started, it takes a while to find your own, so until you do, practice fashioning it after one of your favorite authors. Eventually, as you write more and more, you will find that more and more of your style is showing itself in your writing!

If you ever have any questions about more of what I mention in the posts, or something you personally have trouble with, don't be afraid to leave me a comment or drop me an email. I am here to help!

Cheers, Hazel

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Second Rule

So, I apologize for not paying any attention to this blog for a long time, but I have been caught up in too many other things and when I got the chance to do blog writing, I would write for my other one, but I really do love this blog and will make more time for further posts!

So today's post is Rule Two:

Forget Grammar for a While!

Grammar is very important for a finished manuscript, but while you are writing a rough draft, don't worry about it! If you spend all your time worrying about how the sentence you just wrote sounds, you'll never get any real writing done! Concentrate on the story line first, that is the first step to writing a story. When you get the story line the way you like it, you can go back and fix grammar and spelling all you want. Critiquing manuscripts, while most people think it's monotonous, I think is one of the best parts of writing! I think it is very exciting to be able to go back through my own stories and make them better. Nothing you do the first time is going to be perfect. As long as you remember this, you will be a very accomplished writer. And the more you go back through your stories and try to fix them yourself, the better you will get at it in the future and you will find after a while that you do not need to fix quite so many things in you writing.

If you have problems with grammar, I would like to suggest the Grammar for Dummies workbook. It has understandable explanations and quick easy exercises to help improve your grammar. Also any of the Writer's Digest books will help as well.

Mainly, the best thing to do to be able to write better is to read! Take one of your favorite books up again and concentrate on the author's sentence structure and how they word things. Many of my favorite authors are so because of the way they right. I have read many books on subject I have enjoyed, but was less enthused because of the writers style. And I have also read books I might not have read but for the fact that one of my favorite authors wrote them. I would also suggest reading the classic authors. Shakespeare really did know how to turn a plot! And you cannot deny that authors like Louisa May Alcott and Sir Walter Scott really knew how to write. Most recurring story lines are found in some of the first novels ever written.

So, hopefully, I'll be back before long with more "rules" and posts!

Cheers, Hazel

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The First Rule

To start off, I am going to write about some of the rules of writing. No, this is not a long boring explanation of how grammar and sentence structure can improve a story, this is about how real writers become the authors who's books you read today. 

The first rule, is, of course, the most important, and it is truly, I think, the defining line between a good a bad novel. (Grammar aside of course!)

Rule 1: Write what you love!

The reason I say this is the most important rule in writing is because, who wants to write a story about something that does not interest them? Write what you like to read. I, for example, love history and historic fiction, and Scotland, so I write a lot of Scottish historic fiction. If you enjoy reading fantasies or mysteries, write those! If you happen to enjoy two different genres, like, romance and historical, then write a historical romance! Or historical mystery, or a mystery fantasy or whatever! Just write what you love, that way, you will be sure to put your whole heart and soul into your books. The choice of what to write, is the one thing that separates creative writing from the assignments you have to do in school and stuff like that. (Now, I for one have never hated writing essays, and later, I will most likely post something about writing creative essays such as personal essays which are most of the time just as fun as novel writing!) When you write, do not fret over what other people might like to read, worry about what YOU would want to read. Too many times, I have seen hundreds of the same kind of books in stores because one authors thinks an idea is enjoyable to write and everyone ends up liking their books; but then other authors see how well the first person's books went and they decide to write something identical to them! I am completely against fad writing. If one person's books are good, then fine! But that doesn't mean that the next fifty just like it will be better! I'm not saying it's bad if the fad at the time is what you like to write, I'm just saying not to write something to feel obligated to just to get people to read it! Remember, this is not high school! No matter what people say, just keep writing!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

So what's it all about?

Hello to everyone out there! This is my blog, The First Scribbles. My goal for this blog is to offer help and tips to young or beginning writers. I have always had a passion for writing, and I would love to share some of my experience with other people. Being a writer is fun, though, if you want to do it right, it's also a bit hard, though, like any art, it is very rewarding in the end. I hope to give out little tips and encouragement as I write the posts and I highly encourage comments and emails if you have any questions, comments or concerns. You can email me at 

So if this blog sounds like something that might be a help to you, please keep reading. The biggest help I have always found in writing is talking to other writers!