villa i

The Dos and Don’ts of Beginning a Novel:  An Illustrated Guide

I’ve had a lot of asks lately for how to begin a book (or how not to), so here’s a post on my general rules of thumb for story openers and first chapters!  

Please note, these are incredibly broad generalizations;  if you think an opener is right for you, and your beta readers like it, there’s a good chance it’s A-OK.  When it comes to writing, one size does not fit all.  (Also note that this is for serious writers who are interested in improving their craft and/or professional publication, so kindly refrain from the obligatory handful of comments saying “umm, screw this, write however you want!!”)

So without further ado, let’s jump into it!

Don’t: 

1.  Open with a dream. 

“Just when Mary Sue was sure she’d disappear down the gullet of the monstrous, winged pig, she woke up bathed in sweat in her own bedroom.”

What?  So that entire winged pig confrontation took place in a dream and amounts to nothing?  I feel so cheated! 

Okay, not too many people open their novels with monstrous swine, but you get the idea:  false openings of any kind tend to make the reader feel as though you’ve wasted their time, and don’t usually jump into more meaty action of the story quickly enough.  It makes your opening feel lethargic and can leave your audience yawning.

Speaking of… 

2.  Open with a character waking up.  

This feels familiar to most of us, but unless your character is waking up to a zombie attack or an alien invasion, it’s generally a pretty easy recipe to get your story to drag.

No one picks a book to hear how your character brushes their teeth in the morning or what they’d like to have for dinner.  As a general rule of thumb, we read to explore things we wouldn’t otherwise get to experience.  And cussing out the alarm clock is not one of them.  

Granted, there are exceptions if your writing is exceptionally engaging, but in most cases it just sets a slow pace that will bore you and your reader to death and probably cause you to lose interest in your book within the first ten pages.  

3.  Bombard with exposition.  

Literary characters aren’t DeviantArt OCs.  And the best way to convey a character is not, in my experience, to devote the first ten pages to describing their physical appearance, personality, and backstory.  Develop your characters, and make sure their fully fleshed out – my tips on how to do so here – but you don’t need to dump all that on the reader before they have any reason to care about them.  Let the reader get to know the character gradually, learn about them, and fall in love with them as they would a person:  a little bit at a time.   

This is iffy when world building is involved, but even then it works best when the delivery feels organic and in tune with the book’s overall tone.  Think the opening of the Hobbit or Good Omens.

4.  Take yourself too seriously.

Your opener (and your novel in general) doesn’t need to be intellectually pretentious, nor is intellectual pretense the hallmark of good literature.  Good literature is, generally speaking, engaging, well-written, and enjoyable.  That’s it.  

So don’t concern yourself with creating a poetic masterpiece of an opening line/first chapter.  Just make one that’s – you guessed it – engaging, well-written, and enjoyable. 

5.  Be unintentionally hilarious.

Utilizing humor in your opening line is awesome, but check yourself to make sure your readers aren’t laughing for all the wrong reasons (this is another reason why betas are important.)  

These examples of the worst opening lines in published literature will show you what I mean – and possibly serve as a pleasant confidence booster as well: 

“As the dark and mysterious stranger approached, Angela bit her lip anxiously, hoping with every nerve, cell, and fiber of her being that this would be the one man who would understand – who would take her away from all this – and who would not just squeeze her boob and make a loud honking noise, as all the others had.”

– Ali Kawashima

“She sipped her latte gracefully, unaware of the milk foam droplets building on her mustache, which was not the peachy-fine baby fuzz that Nordic girls might have, but a really dense, dark, hirsute lip-lining row of fur common to southern Mediterranean ladies nearing menopause, and winked at the obviously charmed Spaniard at the next table.”

– Jeanne Villa

“As I gardened, gazing towards the autumnal sky, I longed to run my finger through the trail of mucus left by a single speckled slug – innocuously thrusting past my rhododendrons – and in feeling that warm slime, be swept back to planet Alderon, back into the tentacles of the alien who loved me.”

– Mary E. Patrick

“Before they met, his heart was a frozen block of ice, scarred by the skate blades of broken relationships, then she came along and like a beautiful Zamboni flooded his heart with warmth, scraped away the ugly slushy bits, and dumped them in the empty parking lot of his soul.”

– Howie McClennon

If these can get published, so can you.

Do:

1.  You know that one really interesting scene you’re itching to write?  Start with that.

Momentum is an important thing in storytelling.  If you set a fast, infectious beat, you and your reader will be itching to dance along with it.  

Similarly, slow, drowsy openers tend to lead to slow, drowsy stories that will put you both to sleep.

I see a lot of posts joking about “that awkward moment when you sit down to write but don’t know how to get to that one scene you actually wanted to write about.”  Write that scene!  If it’s at all possible, start off with it.  If not, there are still ways you can build your story around the scenes you actually want to write.

Keep in mind:  if you’re bored, your reader will almost certainly be bored as well.  So write what you want to write.  Write what makes you excited.  Don’t hold off until later, when it “really gets good.”  Odds are, the reader will not wait around that long, and you’re way more likely to become disillusioned with your story and quit.  If a scene is dragging, cut it out.  Burn bridges, find a way around.  Live, dammit. 

2.  Engage the reader.

There are several ways to go about this.  You can use wit and levity, you can present a question, and you can immerse the reader into the world you’ve created.  Just remember to do so with subtlety, and don’t try too hard;  believe me, it shows.  

Here are some of my personal favorite examples of engaging opening lines: 

“In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move." 

– Douglas Adams, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

"It was the day my grandmother exploded.”

– Iain Banks, Crow Road.

“A white Pomeranian named Fluffy flew out of the a fifth-floor window in Panna, which was a grand-new building with the painter’s scaffolding still around it. Fluffy screamed.”

– Vikram Chandra, Sacred Games.

See what I’m saying?  They pull you in and do not let go.

3.  Introduce us to a main character (but do it right.)

“Shadow had done three years in prison. He was big enough and looked don’t-fuck-with-me enough that his biggest problem was killing time. So he kept himself in shape, and taught himself coin tricks, and thought a lot about how much he loved his wife.”

– Neil Gaiman, American Gods.

This is one of my favorite literary openings of all time, because right off the bat we know almost everything we need to know about Shadow’s character (i.e. that he’s rugged, pragmatic, and loving.)   

Also note that it doesn’t tell us everything about Shadow:  it presents questions that make us want to read more.  How did Shadow get into prison?  When will he get out?  Will he reunite with his wife?  There’s also more details about Shadow slowly sprinkled in throughout the book, about his past, personality, and physical appearance.  This makes him feel more real and rounded as a character, and doesn’t pull the reader out of the story.

Obviously, I’m not saying you should rip off American Gods.  You don’t even need to include a hooker eating a guy with her cooch if you don’t want to.  

But this, and other successful openers, will give you just enough information about the main character to get the story started;  rarely any good comes from infodumping, and allowing your reader to get to know your character gradually will make them feel more real.   

4.  Learn from the greats.

My list of my favorite opening lines (and why I love them) is right here.

5.  Keep moving.  

The toughest part of being a writer is that it’s a rare and glorious occasion when you’re actually satisfied with something you write.  And to add another layer of complication, what you like best probably won’t be what your readers will like best. 

If you refuse to keep moving until you have the perfect first chapter, you will never write anything beyond your first chapter.  

Set a plan, and stick to it:  having a daily/weekly word or page goal can be extremely helpful, especially when you’re starting out.  Plotting is a lifesaver (some of my favorite posts on how to do so here, here, and here.)

Keep writing, keep moving, and rewrite later.  If you stay in one place for too long, you’ll never keep going. 

Best of luck, and happy writing.  <3

sentient-teapot  asked:

"Accidentally capture the wrong base"? .....tell us more? Please?

this was before we got agent agent back as our handler, and part of the reason why he finally turned up for work again. 

so the thing about clint is that hes 1. not a good listener and 2. hes deaf. mostly. these are separate issues because being mostly deaf doesnt stop him from understanding what people are saying most of the time, it just means that you have to be sure he knows youre trying to communicate with him before you say something. (and also that you should make sure your mask doesnt cover your mouth so he can lipread, but whatever.)

we had this agent—incredibly boring guy in the worst sort of way–who’d requested clint, nat, and i for an op. nat and i were supposed to hit two of the leaders of a crime syndicate while clint got the third. easy peasy, kill some guys, free some hostages, small country liberated, total cakewalk. but the agent running the op and the briefing took FOREVER. he was talking us through like none of us had ever overthrown a country before, explaining every minute detail. nat and i could just kinda zone out and let things wash over us, picking up the pertinent details, but clint cant really do that. his hearing aids help but they weren’t perfect, so he also had to be kinda lipreading just to keep up. which takes a lot of focus for incredibly boring info. naturally he zoned out too.

which was how he missed the fact that his guy was not actually staying in his incredibly fortified base-slash-villa. his hostages were, but he wasn’t. 

luckily, they covered this in the briefing packet we were each provided with, which was a mere 362 pages. 

so obviously none of us actually read it.

we poked through, got blueprints, guard schedules, alarm systems and so on, but didnt bother with most of the rest of it. 

they dropped us in the air over each of our respective targets, clint last. i had the cliffside resort, nat had the downtown headquarters, and clint had the base-villa. nat and i handled ours like pros, of course, corpses everywhere, and clint did too–mowed right through the security, got the hostages, and then called in that his syndicate leader wasnt there, what the hell, who gave me this bad intel.

which was when he was informed that the big bad wasnt IN the villa, he was on the ISLAND ACROSS from the villa, and that hed been supposed to covertly infiltrate the beach house there and quietly capture him. ideally without ever setting foot in the villa; he was just supposed to steal a boat from the villa docks and not get spotted by security. 

unfortunately, clint had blown up all the watercraft at the villa’s docks to keep syndicate members from escaping. which meant he still had to get to the island and capture this guy, but now there were no motorboats left. and if this syndicate jerkoff got away, fury was gonna have his hide.

and thats how clint wound up launching a one-man amphibious assault on an international crime syndicate from a paddleboat.

and also why clint reads his briefings now. 

10

R.I.P. José Delfín Fernández 

[31 July 1992 - 25 September 2016]

I told the boys, ‘If y’all don’t believe in God, y’all might as well start.’ I ain’t ever hit a ball that far even in BP… We had some help.” - Dee Gordon

When you do anything in your life, you do it right and you do it hard. That’s the ultimate honor you can pay to José Fernández.” - David Samson

When your daughter is born I hope she has your smile. The world will be better with a little piece of you in it.

We miss you Niño! Forever and always.

2

He came. He left. Nothing else had changed. I had not changed. The world hadn’t changed. Yet nothing would be the same. All that remains is dreammaking and strange remembrance.

Allure Korea July 2017 | Lee Jinki

(T/N: Please note that there might be something lost / errors in the translation. Thank you and enjoy!)

Q: This is your last night in Maldives. What are the most memorable things?
Onew:
First is playing outside. The nature is very very beautiful. Thanks to the villa I’m staying in I could see the ocean just by sitting leisurely, and I also could see it just by opening the curtain. In the morning or at night, my mind got calm when I saw the ocean from my villa. Next is doing sea activities. I didn’t know I could see a turtle this close!

Q: The villa is nice, right? Although the wind sound is a bit loud sometimes due to monsoon.
Onew:
I saw stingray come and go. The water level changes every hour. I get to know how deep is the water.

Q: What’s a good point of Minho as your travel buddy?
Onew:
As you see, Minho is always full of energy. I don’t know what I should do so I can’t decide. But Minho organizes the things that he wants to do. Minho’s good point, but also a weak point is that he has too much energy. (laughs)

Q: What did you put inside your suitcase?
Onew:
I brought four white t-shirts. I always leave some space.

Q: You’re still touring right? What concert is it?
Onew:
It’s overseas concert and we want to show it in high
quality just like what we did in Korea.

Q: You’re a concert veteran now, right? Are you still nervous when coming on the stage?
Onew:
No matter how many times I’ve experienced it, I’m always concerned about maintaining my stamina. However, I always fail at the first show. There is a moment where I burst out my energy explosively that I become so exhausted. Different situations also occur when I do the same performance several times, but I overcome them all as I exchange gaze with the members.

Q: Do you understand each other only by looking at their eyes now?
Onew:
Not everything, but I think Minho kind of knows. (laughs)

Q: Yesterday was your 9th debut anniversary right? How was the past 9 years?
Onew:
It’s short if it’s short, and it’s long if it’s long… I think the strongest point of a team is that it continues to exist. Our affection grows as we undergo things together over time.

Q: How have the members grown up?
Onew:
I think everyone has grown up into a good direction. As each of us are trying to find ourselves, individually, our area of capabilities have gradually become bigger. We gain synergy because of that.

Q: It seems that you care about the other members more because you’re the oldest?
Onew:
I just listen to them when they tell me something. I also whine a lot. Since we’ve been together for over 10 years, there are days when they are like the hyung, and there are also days when I’m like the hyung.

Q: When is the time when you feel it’s nice to have done this career for 9 years?
Onew:
Because we’re no longer rookies, it’s nice that we’re able to match each other.

Q: Is ‘A team that is always trustworthy’ a thing that comes across your mind when you think of SHINee? They’re like perfectionist at their performances and songs.
Onew:
Haha! When I’m working hard on a performance there are times when I don’t think much about it when it’s near the last stage.

Keep reading

the honeymoon || tom holland head-canon 

summary: ahhh… the honeymoon stage..or in this case, the actual honeymoon because i’m absolutely living for newlywed!tom

requested: yes 

Originally posted by tomshollandss


  • now, we all know it would’ve been the wedding of the century 
  • not necessarily because it was an extravagant and so over the top that it put royalty to shame 
  • but because tom had pulled out all the stops to make sure it was everything you had dreamed of 
  • of course you insisted he had his wishes met and added details that he would’ve wanted
  • however he wanted to make the day your fairytale dream come true
  • and so he did
  • (if you want to read more about the wedding i highly suggest checking out this by @snetersnarker, my homegirl taylor brought this to real life)
  • he would’ve tried to keep the destination a surprise
  • months in advance he had been looking into hotels, villas, and vacation houses 
  • it would’ve been a total surprise up until he handed you your boarding pass 
  • “wE’RE GOING TO GREECE?!”
  • “what?! did harrison tell you??????”
    • “no you goof, it’s right here on the ticket” 
    • “oh, fuck..can you at least act surprised when we get there?”
    • “whatever you say, hubby”
  • tom practically grinning the whole flight, all due to the fact that you were now officially his
  • he loved holding your hand even more now because he could fiddle with your wedding ring 
  • constantly referring to you as “the missus.” 
  • keeping you close to him and reminding you how lucky he is all throughout the plane ride 
    • even when you fell asleep before him, he’d press a kiss to your forehead and remind you 
  • once you got through all of the stops in the airport of santorini, tom would be practically dragging you out of the place 
  • he was really eager to get you back to the vacation house that he had booked 
  • “darling, you’re going to love it, i’m positive” 
  • taking a taxi to the beach house he had booked 
  • being in absolute awe of the fact that tom had did this 
  • “i-i thought we were going to a hotel?”
  • “now, why would i do that for the most magical week of our lives?”
  • trying to carry you bridal style into the little villa 
  • “tom i don’t think you can carry me and our suitcases”
  • “do you forget you’re married to spider-man??”
  • let’s not forget he would use that excuse for almost everything now 
  • tom immediately wanting to have sex as soon as you dropped your bags down i’m not even going to lie 
  • “we just got here???”
  • “and i’ve been controlling myself since i saw you walk down that aisle” 
  • i’m just gonna acknowledge this now
  • your honeymoon week had a lot of sex 
  • but this first time was different of course
  • now that you were married to him, he wanted to make that first time memorable 
  • he ushered you out of the room and quickly got to work 
  • while you took to one of the bathrooms to change into one of the many lingerie sets you got for your bridal shower, tom was busy setting up the room 
  • when you got back, you were in shock 
  • so was he as soon as he laid his eyes on you 
  • he had laid out rose petals, lit some candles, and turned off the lights 
  • “tom what-” 
  • “shh, just come here and let me appreciate my wife” 
  • let’s also not forget tom mentioning at every opportunity he got that you two just got married
  • before snorkeling, he told the instructor 
  • at dinner one evening, he told all the waiters
  • he bragged to all the taxi drivers
  • regardless if they spoke fluent english or not, he just loved being able to tell the story
  • and he’d look at you with so much love in his eyes that no matter who he told they were absolutely over the moon because they could tell exactly what he was talking about 
  • in conclusion please let me marry him and go on a honeymoon with him i’M BEGGING YOU 

tags under the cut :)

part 2?

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

Jonghyun is just a lazy pathetic clown. He does not have time to promote his career but he has time to go to Japan to advertise to Taemin. He left the radio for health problems but he is healthy enough to make two concerts in one day so he could go to Japan. And he has never been to a musical of Key in Seoul but went to another country for the concert Taemin. But of course gain the support of the fans of the popular Taemin >>>> everything else, right?

solo activities that jonghyun has supported of onew, key and minho’s:

1) attending a performance of onew’s musical, rock of ages, on 100923 with his older sister.

2) attending a performance of key’s first stage musical, catch me if you can, on 120501.

3) one of the (many) times that he casually supported minho’s first leading role in a drama, to the beautiful you, back in 2012 on his twitter.

4) tweeting a proof shot of him supporting / watching key’s livestream for my little television back in 2015.

5) supporting key’s collaboration single with axodus, “hold on”, back in 2015 by having it played multiple times / hyping it on blue night radio.

6) talking about descendants of the sun, onew’s first drama, last year on blue night radio - and specifically going out of the way to mention onew being in it / hype his role.

7) promoting / doing an in-depth analysis / review of onew / lee jin ah’s collaboration for sm station last year, “밤과별의노래 (starry night)”. 

8) promoting onew’s special appearance as a dj on kiss the radio while on his own radio show.

these are just off of the top of my head / what i could find that hadn’t been lost in translation or deleted over time. he also tweeted about onew’s sitcom back in 2013, royal villa, but i can’t find that tweet. anyway: thank you for giving me a reason to share more moments of support between the members! (also remember that not supporting in public doesn’t mean that no support happens at all - there’s such a thing as behind the scenes / private support.) have a nice day!

10

 Yeah, Rosie. Tell them.   The first time I met Annalise… she was kickboxing. Yeah, she was so focused she wouldn’t even look at me. But I was looking at her. You know, it was that… that face that was perhaps the most alarmingly beautiful face that I had ever seen. And it kept alternating from… from delicate and captivating one second to scrunched-up and intense the next. It was like she was fighting not just that bag, but something bigger. Something inside of her. And I didn’t know it at the time, but my life was never gonna be the same

So the day that I proposed to Annalise, she was meeting me on a weekend away, and she came around this corner wearing a pair of blue-jean shorts, a white t-shirt, and a hat. And it was an outfit so simple, so nondescript. But the way she wore it… The way she wore it, it was like it was designed just for her. Then I knew. I realized that she showed up not for a vacation, not out of obligation, but for me. She was there for me. And just at that moment, the Rihanna song “Stay” came on the radio. And so I took her hand in mine, and I’m not really a Jumbotron kind of guy, but I do believe that the… the smallest moments have the potential to be the biggest. And it was in that exact moment that I realized this whole time that I thought I was gonna be saving her… it was she that was saving me.