Plot structure and Hooks.
Key elements to any story. Both are very simple, but done correctly, can bring more readers to your work. Take the hook, for example. A few effective ways to draw a reader into your novel is to start with a character speaking. The reader will want to find out who is speaking and who they are speaking to, so they will most likely decide to keep reading. The dialogue could look something like this:
“We caught another one today, dear.”
“Really? That must be the third this month!”
“Precisely!” he said, pleased she had taken the time to count. “We only lost seven of our men on this hunt. Usually nothing good comes from that forest, but we’ve been lucky so far.”
She snorted. “If you push your luck too far, you’ve got to run out eventually.”
So now you have two characters and two personalities and two names to have prepared before you begin. The hook it the concept of ‘What’s in the woods that they are hunting?’ and ‘Who is they?’ An example from chapter one of Defenders: Lake of Fire is this: “Name: Syrene Pectar. Crimes: Thief and rebel; suspected defender of Lord Havom; suspected keeper of the prophecy, suspected illegal half-one. Home Kingdom: Efousiam. Weapons: Electric blue sword, small black crossbow, small dagger. Prison Level: Maximum Security,” the scribe explained, reading from a scroll.
It has an effect that will leave readers wondering what will happen next. Hooks don’t always have to be in the first sentence, although I’ll encourage you that the sooner you write on in, the sooner the reader won’t want to put down the book. If you write a long introduction about all the characters and their everyday lives, that’s okay, but have it at the very beginning so people can skim it if they choose to. I have started reading several books where the hook isn’t until chapter three or four and by then I’ve put it down and won’t pick it up again. So starting with a character speaking is one way of pulling readers in.
Plot structure is simple as well: The introduction: Meet the characters and setting. Have problems the main character has to overcome. Add in plot twists and things readers would never suspect to keep them interested. Build your way to the climax. You do not have to lay out your entire story chapter by chapter, although if that’s how you like to write that’s efficient and a good way to keep organized. I personally hardly think ahead at all. I just write and then connect the dots along the way. Either way of writing works.
Gather your characters and hook, and have a general idea of what you want your book to look like, then come back in March to read about the Middle Fillers, Climax, and Character Traits (including language.)