Posts Tagged ‘reading a book is like going for a hike on a trail that I’ve never been on before’

April 25, 2015

Writing Coach Teresa asks: “How do you hook your reader at the middle of your book?”

Writing Coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan here . . . recording notes . . .  energized from co-teaching with Mary E. Knippel today – Day 2 of “For Theme’s Sake: Edit Your Own Manuscript Before Pitching or Self-Publishing”.

Our students / hardworking authors supplied plenty of inspiration for their own protagonists as well as for fellow-classmates.

Today we focused on the middle of everyone’s manuscripts. Why the middle?

Before I take on the role of the writer, I put on my reader’s hat.  For me, reading a book is like going for a hike on a trail that I’ve never been on before.  By looking at the signs at the trailhead, I know how long I would have to walk in order to get to the end . . .  just as I know how many hours it would take to read a book by seeing the page count.

That hike I’ve started – the sign posts on the first half of the trail are clear and helpful. I know that if I follow the arrows, I will reach the end, and feel great as I always do after a “good” long walk.

I’ve started reading a book. The author hooks me from page one – sometimes that hook is the narrator’s voice/language, other times it’s the subject matter (a topic that I do relate to or one that I would like to know more about).  By page 5 (oftentimes, even sooner) I know what the main character/protagonist wants or needs, and, I want to see what’s going to happen next. So I turn the page.  I am in the story world.

The author had planted “sign posts” to guide me. Those sign posts are called “themes”.

By the middle of the book, that core theme/sign post better be there.  If the story has stopped hooking me, I will put the book down and probably not open it again.  (On my hike, if at midpoint the trail seems to have disappeared, the marker has fallen off its post, and I’m all alone  . . .  do I continue on? By the way, I am not interested in getting lost today. My dinner awaits me at home.)

Such is the task for an author – how to guide the reader with that core theme, scene after scene.

To the dear authors in our class,

That big sheet of paper that Mary gave you today?  Tape the class handouts from Day 1 and Day 2 onto that sheet. Look at those aids every time you meet with your protagonist.  And, ask your protagonist these questions:   “Where are you today on your Hero’s Journey?”  “What do you want ? … in this scene.”

Speaking of “scene” –

Writing Coach Teresa says: “A scene is a compilation of paragraphs that creates a “movie” in the Reader’s mind.  Which means:  action, dialogue, sensory details, and authentic details.

A sequence of scenes guides the Reader in your Story World, and, is a vehicle to show the Hero’s/Protagonist’s transformation.  Go into scene whenever you want to show us what your protagonist is made of.

In real life, if someone says “I’ve changed. Take my word for it.”  . . .  wouldn’t you be thinking . . .  Hmm….    I’ll believe it when I see it.  Instead of telling us how your protagonist has grown, show us through scene, not through summaries.

Summary cannot spark the same emotional responses as a scene would . . . because summary either recaps what has happened or jumps over time in order to get to the next scene.

I recommend:

* Martha Engber’s book on how to write scenes
* Christopher Vogler’s book The Writer’s Journey (about Hero’s Journey and Archetypes)
* all books by Martha Alderson on plotting
* your rereading your favorite book and studying that author’s techniques

The fabulous authors in our class have mighty themes:

* make my own decisions and change my circumstances (author of YA science fiction)

* move on with my life in spite of unanswered questions and a broken heart (author of women’s fiction)

* speaking my truth transforms shame into courage and forgiveness (author of memoir)

* embracing my past and loving myself feed my spirit as well as my marriage’s spirit (Diana Lynn, author of women’s fiction)

Their readers will surely stick by their protagonists and be there at the end of the book.

Cheering for YOU!

Sincerely,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan

on behalf of

“For Theme’s Sake” teachers Teresa LeYung-Ryan & Mary E. Knippel

May 2, 2015 Teresa LeYung-Ryan ( Build Your Writer’s Platform & Fanbase In 22 Days – workbook; Love Made of Heart: a Daughter, a Mother, a Journey Through Mental Illness – novel) celebrates Independent Bookstore Day / California Bookstore Day  with other local authors at Laurel Book Store, Oakland, CA  http://WritingCoachTeresa.com  and http://www.laurelbookstore.com

Saturday June 6
Teresa LeYung-Ryan (Fanbase-Building Coach and “Immigrant Experience Writing Contest” sponsor) joins California Writers Club colleagues for Writing Contest Awards Ceremony and Writers Helping Writers Through Mentoring;

June 13, 2015  for Authors Day

June 6 and June 13, 2015  at Literary Stage, Fine Arts Galleria, San Mateo County Fair (Cheers to Bardi Rosman Koodrin, Boris Koodrin, Laurel Anne Hill, David Hirzel, Margie Yee Webb, Wini McCaffrey, et al)  http://WritingCoachTeresa.com http://cwc-peninsula.org/fair.html


 

 

 

 

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