A blog about writing and all things story…
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Some first scene tips for controlling that ‘control freak’ back story urge:
Show what your character desires, needs, hates, or loves and what their obstacles or vulnerabilities are– if and ONLY if it’s important to the story, in the first scene. This is where the skill of our craft comes into play. Write with intention. Understand why you choose the words you choose and what they have to do with the character and the overall story. Only reveal what matters to the story, not what’s fascinating to you, but what’s critical to the story.
In the first five pages of my novel, Once a Warrior, I reveal the most critical aspect of my main protagonist’s nature in the middle of a conflict, in 3 words (no back story). Of course until it’s published I can’t tell you what those 3 words are, and the specifics aren’t the point. The point is that I’m conscious of those three words, the power they have, and how they (revealing his true feelings) ultimately turn the story. Those 3 words inform his every step and every decision that follows right up to the very last page. Without these 3 words there would be no story. This took some time, therapy, coffee, wine and a lot of chocolate (all vital writing tools) for me to discover.
So, what do you reveal about your protagonist in the first scene that will hook your readers and requires little to NO back story?
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By Miri Elm
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