Study The Craft

There is a basic structure for every genre of creative writing. It is upon this basic structure that the writer’s individual uniqueness comes in as worthy appendages. Without a basic structure or frame, unique appendages are unworthy by default.

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On Beginning…

In this key, our aim is to help you find what kind of writing will best express whatever it is you want to write, especially as it relates to your why for writing.

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Where Should You Write?

Imagine a comfortable chair, a table of exactly the right height, a computer and a mug of hot coffee or a bottle of booze. Then imagine you cannot afford any of them.

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When Should You Write?

Your natural proclivity is to desire comfort. You don’t want to do anything until the stars have aligned and the booming voice of the universe says, “It’s time to write, my dear child.” But the question is, when was the last time you heard that voice? Have you even ever?

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The viewpoint character

Every story has an aim or reason driving its telling. The purpose of a story informs the perspective from which it is told. Point of view simply asks, from whose eyes shall your readers witness the events that make up your story?

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On Modelling…

All readers are drawn to stories about things they recognise: Dreams, Ambitions, Fears, Courage, Dilemma, Safety, Rejection, Hatred, Love, etc. Storytelling is a means of giving people a chance to experience all the things they fear and all the things they adore knowing that they are separated from the troubles or dangers that accompany such experience.

Readers want to read from writers who understand them. And it doesn’t matter if the story is set in Mars or if the characters are animated horse dungs talking about the need for personal hygiene. As long as these characters also live relatable dreams and express similar fears, the readers will always read. And this remains true even in stories with extraterrestrial settings.

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Stretch your creativity

Haven’t we all had our fair share of the crippling writing advice: Write What You Know? The givers of this advice come at you with hard buttocks rendered rigid from sitting so long in the writers’ comfort zone. They don’t ‘waste’ time imagining what is unfamiliar to them and they don’t attempt to tell stories not crafted about characters like them within settings like the ones in which they live.

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“When writing a novel, do you add a hook near the beginning of the book after the manuscript is completed or when you start writing it?”

Tell the story the way it tells you…

Sometimes your hook may come right at the beginning, other times, it may come when you’re done with the manuscript… possibly even after you’ve submitted it.

I think when it comes to the technicalities of how to write a hook, different authors have different preferences.

A hook, for those unaware, is basically a sentence (or a group of sentences) that draws your readers in to reading your work.

Based on this, I personally prefer to begin with a captivating sentence and/or add my hook within the first two paragraphs.

This way, a promise is made right at the beginning and the anticipation of the promise fulfilled keeps the readers engaged.

Three ways you can do this:

a). Create curiosity.
Let your first sentence/ paragraph make readers curious. Intrigue them. Your first line should generate questions that lead them to read your book/story for the answers to.

b). Connect emotionally.

If your words can stir up feelings in your readers, more often than not, they will stay connected and stick with the story till the end.

c). Introduce a character.

I’m a sucker for this personally. I read a book beginning with a perculiar character and I can’t help but read on to discover more about them… two of my personal favourites are:

“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C. S. Lewis

And

“Kell wore a very peculiar coat.”

A Darker Shade of Magic, V.E. Schwab

There are in fact a number of other ways to write a great first sentence hook but I think it best for each author to practice and find what works best for them… I also think it’s important not to neglect the story and what it wants to do… let the story tell you.

So, to answer the question, sometimes my story is born from a sentence, such as:

“I died a thousand times that day.”
Jenée, Xyvah Okoye & Chiedozie Omeje

Other times, I’ve gone half way through my manuscript before returning to rewrite the first paragraph.

To be honest 🙈 there was a case where I finished the manuscript completely and ended up getting my hook in on my second edit of it.

🤷🏽‍♀️ it all depends on what works for you. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do it right the first time. It will come when it’s ready… let the story tell you.

Diligence

Putting in careful and persistent work or effort is a major key to going a long way in creative writing. 

As a writer, you will not always be in a constant state of flowing creative ideas. Sometimes you’ll go through dry spells where you stare at the blank screen or page for hours with not a single word coming to mind. 

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Begin With A Promise

Creative writing, especially when writing a story, should begin with a promise of worthwhileness. Your readers need the assurance that, of all the things they could be doing, they haven’t chosen wrongly by reading your story.

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