Thursday, April 26, 2012


What is the point of writing a book? For many of us, it’s a simple drive to want to know what happened next to the cool people who wander into our heads. For readers, it’s because THEY want to find out about these cool folks who are wandering across the pages.

But there has to be a hook-- something has to happen. Questions need to be raised, and throughout the course of your work (short story, novella, novel, or series) answers need to be offered.

Common writing knowledge dictates that the book should start with action. But some authors take that to mean physical action only. Instead of saying start with action, I would say start with a question. The start of your book should be where something has changed in your main character’s life, a spot where a question has been raised that in one way or another messes them up.

This doesn’t have to be a big thing, but keep in mind that it needs to be the stone that starts the avalanche of your book. Not enough change, and the book peters out, too much too soon and you could confuse readers, or lose them by throwing huge changes at a character the reader doesn’t even know yet.

Example: If you dangle someone I don’t know over a fiery pit of flesh eating garden gnomes I’m not going to be near as concerned as if you’re dangling my newly found best friend (your main character whom I’ve grown to love) over that same pit.

So that first question needs to come quickly to pull the reader in, but not be so big that the reader isn’t vested yet. But you need to have a question there; otherwise a reader doesn’t need to go past your first page.

What about you writers out there? What questions start your books? Readers? What do you love? What do you hate?

Thanks for coming by!


  1. Nice blog, thanks. I’m a newer writer, so it’s good to read about ways to make my writing better. This is just my first book, but I want to make it the best it can be.
    Thanks for the blog and the links you have at the side.


  2. Thank you for coming by and enjoying the post, Marlene :). We all have to star somewhere, and it sounds like you're moving forward with a plan :). If you (or anyone on here) come across a really cool blog to add to my blog roll- please post it!

    thanks for commenting-

    Marie -stuck at work so I'm anonymous- Andreas

  3. Where do I start? Um, my first novel, a chapter book about a little boy who loses his mother in a fire, came about because a friend lost his entire family in a fire and the book -- where I could have a 'better' outcome -- was my way of dealing with it. The next one came about because I wanted to overcome my phobia about writing science fiction (I'd read reams) and decided to do Nano in 2010. The first will be out in 2013, the second this July. Now I'm working on two follow ons to the first novel -- both from questions about 'what happened to ...' or 'why did ....?' or a bit of back-story that I hadn't fully explored. I keep notes on ideas for books. Some were questions about what happened after the end of a novel I was reading. Some were wondering "but what if ..." about people I know.

    I have about a dozen right now (more than I will find time to write!).

    Blogs: Check out
    Posts appear daily, or almost so.

    check out:
    Posts appear twice a week

    1. (Trying again)SIGH- THIS is why I usually don't try to get onto blogger when at work during my lunch!

      Ok, trying to reply again-LOL

      Thanks for the comment Madcap Maggie- it really looks like you are using those questions, and I bet your writing shows that :).

      Thanks for the blogs! I'm not sure how many more I'll add- don't want the list too long and I like to keep the blog post title showing- but I love finding new writing blogs.

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

  4. Great post, Marie! You've got me thinking about story questions today. :)

  5. Excellent post Marie!!! I like a combo at the beginning. I do like action, but I like the action to show me the character at the same time. That hooks me like crazy! :)


  6. Thanks for coming by and commenting Cassi and Lisa! I really appreciate it :).

    OOOO- excellent Cassi- :)

    I hear ya Lisa, but for me it depends on the feel of the book. Some I want things to hit the ground running (funny, and or action) and sometimes I like things a bit slower. But there still needs to be a question :).

    Thanks again ladies!

  7. Great post, Marie. I just rewrote the opening scene of the manuscript I'm in the process of revising. It was seriously dragging because I didn't have that question in there yet. Hopefully it's there now. :)

    As for writing blogs, here's one I'm part of with the 2009 GH finalists--lots of good writing advice:

  8. I'm so glad you came by my blog Shoshana! I completely understand about the missing question issue. Sometimes it takes me a bit to figure out why a project isn't moving, then I smack myself in the head and realize it ain't moving because it's missing a BIG something! ;)

    And thanks for the link to your group blog, I'll have to check it out.

  9. Marie:
    Not sure what you want, but I write a weekly blog mostly about writing. The link is
    Do you want to send your followers to another blog or do you want a blog post you can repeat on yours? See, I'm confused. Happens a lot though.

    1. Hi Phyllis,

      No, I'm just looking for more blogs to add to my blog roll to the side. Since the point of my blog is to help writers, I like to be able to recommend other blogs as well :).

      Right now I'd really like to find a strong agent or editor blog to add though, as I just took down two inactive agent blogs :(.