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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Knowing your “Why”.

WHY DO YOU WANT TO WRITE?

Through the holiday period, we’ve been thinking of the best way to set your writing permanently on a more productive trajectory. This year, we wish to start by cutting the assumption that you’re already a writer and ask; Why is writing important to you?

The key word in today’s writing key is why. What is your motivation? This question requires an answer with a perennial lifespan, particularly if you are one looking to make writing a career.

WHY ASK WHY?

Now, think of that song you loved the first time you heard it. You looped it and/or danced to it until one day, you realized the song didn’t move you anymore. Think of that hobby that seemed fun until it demanded your energy when you didn’t feel like giving it.

Creative writing is not unlike every other exercise in the sense that, when what was hobby becomes work, every nerve in your body wants to quit. But you know quitting is one ingredient notoriously bad for a career recipe. It is for this reason that you need a strong why to lean on for motivation and focus on days when creative writing shall lose its juice like an overplayed favorite song… And there will be many days like this.

HOWEVER! HOWEVER!!

You should know that the best and most effective whys are personal answers generated from your dreams. It is tempting to go with popular answers, especially from the writers we admire most. The danger in this is that you’d be running on fuel your engine wasn’t design for.

What have you always pictured as the best thing writing can do for you or help you achieve? In there lie the bricks to build your why. A good why is a solid structure, not just a fantasy wished for. Although, sometimes, some structures can be as simple as a mere desire to have fun.

SUMMARY

Knowing why you want to write has the primary duty of creating a goal you can daily work to achieve. It also lights your embers on the day your ashes are damp. Why is not just a creative writing question, it is the search for purpose and you have the right to create that purpose in every area of your life.

Why do you want to write?

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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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.

Taking A Break

As an upcoming or professional writer, there will be days where the zeal to write is missing or our motivation levels seem very low. Sometimes, this feeling may span from a day and could even linger to a week or more. 

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It’s All About The Story

As a writer, it’s important to develop your writing style, plot, and all the surface drama, but the honest truth is this: what really grabs is the story.

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