For decades, I hated running. Now I love it. IMHO, writing and running are sole mates.
(See what I did there? I saw the writerly opportunity and I ran with it.)
Running has transformed my body and my writing. It can do the same for you. Here's how:
Revision is a test of patience and endurance. If you fail this test, your writing will be under-cooked, not ready for public consumption.
Have you ever disliked a book or a movie or a song before liking it later? If so, it's probably because from day to day you are a different person in a different place in a different time. Your moods change. You change.
One key to revision is to keep cutting, shifting, adding and tweaking your text until you are consistently happy with it across many days and moods. Until the many versions of you are satisfied with the words you've put on the page.
So consider the following:
If you are writing YA and you'd like to breathe life into a badass character, pay attention to Margo Roth Spiegelman, who breathes life into John Green's Paper Towns.
Marvel, if you will, at the badassery of Margo's inciting incident entrance and speech. Be on the lookout for Green's expert sprinkling of the story spices of humor, action, intrigue, imagery, desire and conflict:
Authors find writing first chapters challenging for many reasons. Ideally, we should:
Phew! That's a lot.
Let's take a look at a highly effective first chapter, from Taylor Jenkins Reid's Maybe in Another Life. (Here's the first chapter.)
Writers: grammar is just rules for words. When rules don't fit, we must not quit. Let us pledge to bend or break any rules obstructing the storied paths of justice. Great writers tell their inner grammar ("and usage!") police when to freeze and look away.
Veronica Roth, for example, consciously eschewed convention when naming the five factions of her Divergent series.
A writer's job #1 is to hook a reader. John Green is a master of the fearsome hook. Hence the good man's millions of adoring fans. I invite you to read (or reread) the first paragraph from his Paper Towns prologue, below, and number its many layers of awesome.
The way I figure it, everyone gets a miracle. Like, I will probably never be struck by lightning, or win a Nobel Prize, or become the dictator of a small nation in the Pacific Islands, or contract terminal ear cancer, or spontaneously combust. But if you consider all the unlikely things together, at least one of them will probably happen to each of us. I could have seen it rain frogs. I could have stepped foot on Mars. I could have been eaten by a whale. I could have married the queen of England or survived months at sea. But my miracle was different. My miracle was this: out of all the houses in all the subdivisions in all of Florida, I ended up living next door to Margo Roth Spiegelman.
Think for a moment about the protagonist-antagonist relationship of Katniss Everdeen and President Snow in The Hunger Games series. Have you noticed the symbolism Suzanne Collins conjures in order to accentuate the opposition between these two fierce warriors?
Katniss Everdeen has sold more Hunger Games books and movie tickets than you can shake a bow and arrow at. There's a reason for that. She's someone we love to root for.
Why? Because she's sympathetic and flawed. Highly sympathetic and sympathetically flawed. Let us count the ways:
Why does everyone love Wilson from Cast Away? Because Tom Hanks' volleyball friend represents tragedy + comedy, a classic 2-for-1. In the first image, Hanks is in danger of drowning, dehydration and death-by-sharks. Yet he further risks his life by leaving his raft to swim after his imaginary friend, sputtering: "Wilson!"
Tragedy + comedy = unforgettable. Hence, Wilson the iconic 2fer.
Readers want 2fer fiction. They want:
Writer, reader, runner, teacher, father, infp, huffleclaw.