Saturday, April 18, 2015

All About The Hook ~ @oddlynn3 #rndrobin0418 #LynnCrain #AWriterInVienna

Hi everyone!

And welcome to A Writer In Vienna. If you’ve never been here before, pull up a chair and look around. I’ve lived in Vienna, Austria four years and am trying to share that experience with others. Drop by my other blog for Monday’s Scoop where I talk even more about the experience. While there, don’t forget to comment and be entered into my monthly contest for a $25 GC of your choice.

Today’s topic is all about what glues you to a story, start to finish. This also includes how we as authors hook our readers. These are age old topics for writers and aren’t to be taken lightly. If you can’t interest a reader immediately in today’s publishing world, you don’t have a chance. If you don’t live up to your hook, you don’t have a chance of being picked up again by that reader.

So…what’s an author to do? Write a great first line, of course!

To me, some of the things a first line, commonly called your hook line, should do, but not necessarily all of them, are:

T  State something unusual.
T  Show someone under stress. For example, if your main character is a time traveler, how they handle what they see and experience will decide the course of the story.
T  The first must be appropriate to the story. You don’t show a nun, who is having a crisis of faith, in the middle of a barrage of gunfire.
T  It should describe the moment when the rest of the novel becomes inevitable.
T  The first line should sum up the whole story.
T  They must make the reader want to read line two.

Overall, a first line or hook, should be clever, thought-provoking, draw the reader into an unfamiliar world, bring a smile to the readers face, be poignant, setup a mystery, use words in such a wonderful way that the reader wants more, introduce a characters and so much more. Those are just a few of the things I feel a first line should do.

Just think of some of the best first lines you’ve read. Here a few of mine:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. (Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, 1813)

Harry Potter was a very unusual boy in many ways. (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling, 1999)

He was running for his life. (Hot Ice, Nora Roberts, 1987)

And here’s a few from my own stories:

Damn, I’m going to lose another one, MacKenzie thought as she beat the steering wheel with her fist. (Midnight Run, Lynn Crain, 2010 unpublished)

He had always been in this cage in one way or another. (Night of the Blue Moon, Lynn Crain, 2007)

What the hell was I doing on this off-planet hell hole? (Private Dancer, Lynn Crain, 2007)

The first line sets the tone for of the rest of the novel, everything else of the story will follow from it. If the first line isn’t something an author can feel in their gut, it’s probably wrong.

Now once you’ve written that great first line, you need to keep the pace going so that every page is integral to the overall story arc of the characters. Again, think of all the books you couldn’t put down. The books I listed above were finished in a day or no more than a few days because every page was a turner.

As a writer, it’s hard to make every page something great. The idea is to first get the story down as if it never gets out of one’s head and on the page, it doesn’t matter. Once there, an author can tweak it, read it again, send it to betas, tweak it some more, have an editor look at it and finally get it published because it shines like a new copper penny.

Some writers think there is a secret to making great page turners. There isn’t. A writer’s greatest tool is the ability to change and adapt, to make their product better as their career moves on. What and how I write today isn’t the same as how I wrote in my late twenties. I’m better and I know it.

And as a writer, I will learn and grow until I can’t any more. Even today, I take classes. Currently, I’m in two marketing classes, a flash-fiction class and a class on how to create a language. I feel it will all make me a better writer.

Overall, I try to write stories I like to read. I love things to be thrilling and constantly changing. Some of my works-in-progress reflect that as I’m working on a series of short stories about a paranormal matchmaking service, a series of shorts about a group of women who were genetically engineered to be soldiers, and a series about a young girl thrust into the world of paranormal investigation. Each and every story is unique. Hopefully, they have a great hook, an incredible middle and a kick-ass ending.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little look into writing great hooks and page turners. Thank you for being supportive of us during our round robins. We love when you visit us and tell us what you think.

Don’t forget to go to each of the authors in the list below. Again, thanks for joining us…see you next time.


T Rachael Kosnski
T Victoria Chatham

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Matter of Research ~ @oddlynn3 #rndrobin0321 #LynnCrain #AWriterInVienna

Hi everyone!

And welcome to A Writer In Vienna. If you’ve never been here before, pull up a chair and look around. I’ve lived in Vienna, Austria four years and am trying to share that experience with others.

Today’s topic is all about research. Every story, no matter what genre deals with research. I was asked the following questions: What type of research have you had to do? Does it bother you when you read something happening in a story that is inaccurate historically, socially, scientifically, etc.?

Here’s my answer: All story genres take some research for establishing details in the setting. It really doesn’t matter what genre one writes in, everyone needs to do some research. When I was writing my award-winning story, The Haunting of Maggie Grey, I had to figure out just how a woman doctor would survive in Scotland on the Isle of Skye. Even before that, I had to figure out if there were even women doctors available to that area during the 1880s-1890s since I wasn’t sure. Happily, I found there was a plethora of women who went into the profession and offered their services to the underprivileged of the time. I even had to do research of veterinary medicine as the hero was a vet and again, I didn’t know if that was even possible. Apparently, I got it right as that story has won some ebook awards in its time.

However, if I wasn’t doing a historic setting, I’d still have to do the research. In my completed book called Loving the Scotsman, I’m again back in Scotland. In that book, I draw on my time visiting there as the setting is contemporary. I look at the places I’d been and even made up some fictional ones to fit the mood and event. I knew enough from being there, my current time research and even emailing people I knew there to make sure everything was accurate or plausible. This story is currently with an agent and I’m hopeful that it will go the rounds at NYC very soon.

I even take Scotland one step further. In my WIP, I again go back to Skye with A Wizard in Skye. This is a story about a futuristic female cop who is pulled into a wizard’s prison by some evil magic. She doesn’t believe in magic. Here I use my husband’s family clan as the backdrop, The MacLeods, and their legend of The Fairy Flag. There are many things written about that little piece of cloth and if I get one wrong, it will be a sad day. So weaving legend with the future has been a fun thing to do. The research here is quite different because I have to keep the Fairy Flag legend intact, layer some of my own interpretation and then draw in a futuristic world of my own making. It all has to be seamless and plausible at the same time.

As far as how I do research, sometimes it just takes me reading a few articles, taking a few notes then making my own decisions on what I’ll use and how I use it. Other times, like one of my current bigger projects, every story will need some major research into the science, the legends and just how it will all mesh together.

Frankly, if I run across stories where the research is poorly done, I will not pick up that author again unless I feel there were reasons for the inaccuracies. For instance, if a story is all about an alternative timeline to our own history, of course, things will be different…may be slightly…may be a lot. It would all depend upon the author’s vision. However, if it is a historic event and they are presenting it as such, I just might write that author and point it out, it would all depend. However, I tend to be a little more lenient about social and scientific things because those can be an interpretation versus an actual fact difference. Most of the items that writers skew to fit their stories are social or scientific. Basically, I know how I see something isn’t the way another does. Yet, if someone tries to disprove a science tenant such as the law of physics, I’d be hard pressed to take them seriously.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little look into my research methods. Thanks for being supportive of us during our round robins. We love when you visit us and tell us what you think.

Don’t forget to go to each of the authors in the list below. Each of them is a very different look into how they do research and what they think. Again, thanks for joining us…see you next time.


T Margaret Fieland at
T Beverley Bateman at
T Skye Taylor at
T Kay Sisk at
T Fiona McGier at
T A.J. Maguire at
T Judith Copek
T Rhobin Courtright at