False Starts and Introductions to Novels: Too Cliché or A Forgotten Skill?

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“At dawn, the sun either shines itself or hides behind clouds, promising what the day will bring. So it is with introductions in stories.” —anonymous

Most agents and editors would balk at the suggestion of a false start intro. On its own, there’s nothing wrong with an exciting beginning, so long as it’s done well. Then again, the last time I read a false start in a novel was years ago. Is it now a forgotten technique, shunned by writers? The problem is that false introductions are usually poorly done and give off a flat feeling for the rest of the book.

First Paragraphs

The first few paragraphs of a book introduce an author’s style—his or her prose rhythm, subtle insecurities, and other narrative patterns. A book is like an onion; it has layers of emotional and mental components embedded into the prose.

This is especially the case in early drafts, where the author is still figuring out what he or she wants to do with the story. Analyzing one’s writing patterns in drafts can lead to improvement and growth for writers. It’s what I do. I read and reread over my manuscripts to analyze them.

A Handy Exercise on Introductions in Prose

There’s an exercise in this article that I recommend. An author examines the first 250 words of the story. Heavily. Dissect it, break it apart, and ask:

  1. What is the purpose of this introduction?
  2. Why is it set up like this?
  3. Is there a hook for the reader?
  4. Is the introduction short enough for the sake of clarity and pacing, but long enough to express its purpose?
  5. What patterns does this intro reveal about the book as a whole?

These questions are by no means exhaustive. Invent questions and discover how many perspectives and shades of grey the introduction can produce.

The first 250 words are crucial to the rest of the story and should let the reader know what they’re in for. Most readers picking up a book at the store—or skimming it over on Amazon—will do this to see if the story interests them. If it’s worth their time, money, and energy. Books, writing, and reading are all about an exchange of energy.

Can the author provide a worthwhile exchange for the reader?

Keeping Introductions to Novels Interesting

I once heard a fellow writer say:

“Stories are like skirts. They have to be long enough to cover everything, but short enough to keep things interesting.” —anonymous

While that might not be the cleverest of examples, he did have a point. Stories, and particularly introductions—since introductions are a significant part of the prose—should be short and sweet, including everything that should be there.

Hooking Readers in the Introduction of a Novel

Here’s a helpful article on hooking readers in the introduction. The author mentions driving the prose with curiosity and conflict—elements that provoke the reader, tempting them to read further.

Internal dialog or exposition can hint at a character’s insecurities, flaws, or other issues. I’m not big on exposition myself—too many writers turn internal narration into a dry monologue that is boring to read, but that’s a topic for another time. Still, its a useful tool and it does have a place.

Stress is…Good for Readers?

Readers love stress and anxiety in a story; they hate it in real life—so, give them what they want, am I right? And do it early on, promising them the reward they will receive if they delve deeper into the story. Dangle that carrot! Gosh, sometimes I feel like a drug dealer with these dopamine-filled scenes. 😦

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Don’t be Afraid to Use False Introductions

Approach the introduction with a sense of clarity and purpose for the reader. Have a plan for the intro, and reflect that throughout the story. The promises made in those first 250 words should come full circle. Otherwise, the introduction is nothing more than a prop that can not—and should not—stand on its own.

Striking a Balance

A solid introduction to a novel is vital. Take time with it, and review it on a routine basis. Even after the twentieth read through, authors may discover new insights about themselves as writers. Even as souls. Each piece of the story, the characters, the scenes, are reflections of the author.

Ask:

  1. Is it long enough to cover everything?
  2. Is it short enough to keep it interesting?
  3. Does it dangle the carrot appropriately, leaving the reader begging for more?

If a writer can bond the reader with the main protagonist and the story within the first few paragraphs, then congratulations! That writer has accomplished a feat that most struggle with. Beginnings are, for me, the funniest part of a new story, but they can also be the hardest.


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Aspectä rey’lief, fair reader, and thanks again for reading!
—Ed R. White

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New Thoughts on Creativity

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“Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent, with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play.”

—Henri Matisse

Throughout time, we humans have expressed creativity with a passion. Whether through art, writing, music, or other media, creativity is what drives us to live.

To aspire to new heights.

But what exactly is creativity? How do we define this exotic beast and its role in our lives?

“Creativity is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others.”

―Robert E. Franken

Creativity and imagination. These elusive terms are difficult to pin down. Human imagination shows terrific promise. It performs miracles while participating in humanity’s gruesome sins. Human vision has no limits, save the ones we place. With enough ingenuity and patience, the strength of creativity can move mountains. Channeling one’s creativity is paramount as humans. It is our birthright and sets us apart from lower life forms.

Who uses creativity?

Creativity is often affiliated with writers, painters, musicians, and so on. Yet imagination is so much more—even business people can use it. Some say creativity is an extension of free will, akin to our souls playing with our true divine nature, as co-creators of reality.

The Divine Wisdom of Imagination

What is creativity without a guiding hand to steer imagination’s wild nature? There is a certain degree of divine wisdom that handles the process. It’s an unconscious, intuitive ability, one that our rational minds cannot comprehend. One simply picks up a pen or brush and begins painting. At some point, we no longer create art—the art creates us.

All art becomes an inner reflection of our soul.

The Components of Creativity

Here’s a diagram that details the facets of creativity:

3-components-of-creativity
  1. Expertise is the logical, restrictive, and straightforward intellect. A left-brained category.
  2. Creative-thinking is the right-brained category of imagination, fertility, and freedom.
  3. Motivation is the commitment factor—the long-term objective; the journey wrought by the mind.

When these three categories mesh together, creativity ignites within us.

The Global Creativity Gap

Here’s another comparative study by Adobe regarding creativity and how people view it:

Adobe-State-of-Create-InfographicWEB

It is ironic that our world values creativity, yet most don’t live up to their creative potential. We live in a society of mechanized production rather than free imagination.

What will the future hold for humanity if we continue at this pace? Will it change? How?

Here are some pointers on upping your creative game. Forming a routine with these steps—along with commitment—could provide dividends.

1. Do Something You Enjoy

It was Einstein himself who proposed this idea. Performing a task that brings fulfillment can help ease stress, clearing the mind. Whatever it may be, include it in your schedule for that creative boost.

2. Do Nothing

Work and rest go hand-in-hand. Sometimes the greatest ideas come to those who unplug from our busy world.

“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.”

—Alan Cohen

If you’re out of ideas, try relaxing or meditating. Practice mindfulness meditation for the best results. Here’s an older article I wrote on the science behind it. Sometimes when we rest, our minds our fermenting, priming for a creative surge.

3. Exercise

Exercise encourages body circulation. Long walks are a great way to feed your brain and stimulate creative juices. This case study alone suggests that walking improves creativity.

4. Embrace the Absurd

Sometimes the craziest ideas have merit. Many writers and artists, like Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear, made use of the inane to fuel their creative works. Sometimes, from the depths of absurdity, genius can emerge. It can’t hurt, can it?

5. Another illustrative Diagram

Here’s a chart summarizing ways to maximize your creative potential:

stimulate-creativity-infographic_32181

Creativity is an elusive mistress, full of mystery and the arcane. Discovering the foundations of imagination may reveal untold secrets to humankind. In an age rife with conflict and misery, perhaps the solution is surrendering to the creative child within us.

That said, I’ll finish with one last inspiring quote:

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him… a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create — so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.” 

―Pearl S. Buck

Interested in joining my mailing list? Members will receive free poetry, special deals, messages to inspire and empower your life, and short stories. You’ll also get the latest news on projects.
Aspectä rey’lief, fair reader, and thanks for reading!
—Ed R. White

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Reflections on Pepper Slyhart, my OC

Hello, my readers, to another installation, this one about my main character, Pepper Slyhart. My post will break down Pepper’s character, her progression over the years, and what made her into what she is today.

Pepper is the main protagonist of my upcoming fantasy series, Ethereal Seals. She’s a hotheaded young lady with a sword, which instructs her on her journey. As a half-dragon hybrid, society shuns Pepper for her half-breed blood. She must conquer her own fears and insecurities to save Atlas.

What Are Her Flaws?

Pepper is prone to anger, and emotions often sway her judgment. She sometimes acts before she thinks, leading to dire, or even hilarious, situations in the story. Because she compares herself to her hero father, Pepper has self-esteem issues.

Due to a childhood accident, Pepper has difficulties flying through the air, while other characters take it for granted. Her ability with magic is subpar, considered novice-level.

What Are Her Strengths?

Taught by her war hero father, Pepper is familiar with swordplay and crystalsmithing. She is resilient against hardship and has excellent problem-solving skills. With her athletic physique, Pepper is agile, able to dart around as a blur.

Unfortunately, her perseverance can also be a double-edged sword, as she may push herself too hard or demand too much of herself. With her half-dragon nature, Pepper can regenerate from cuts and bruises. Upon command, fire and ice can shoot from her lips, decimating foes.

The Early Days

My very first sketch of Pepper circa high school

In high school, I had this idea for a hotheaded, weapon-swinging heroine. Back then, Pepper was called Amelia, named off a childhood character. I took her on various adventures on roleplaying forums, where I met some lifelong friends. At the time, my series was called Ethereal Sages, and to be blunt, it was a horrid mess of adolescent passions. For more info on my writing journey, check out my article here.

Anyway, it wasn’t until grad school that I decided to refine my series into something more professional. Enter Pepper Slyhart.

The Writing Begins

As I started with Ethereal Series, Pepper was a very underdeveloped character. She was a whiny brat without much sympathy for others besides her best friend, Tarie Beyworth. Her story arc was simplistic and lacked the finer points of any good story.

Years later, Pepper now had a love interest (subplot), she had a magical affliction (another subplot), and her spirit had entwined with the planet as a whole.

Overall, it was the conflict, the various problems and flaws she had, which made Pepper interesting. No longer a whiny brat, her character developed new depth, a more human and relatable character.

At the time, I had also picked sketching back up, some of it digital, to flesh out Pepper’s concepts.

Tweaking and Polishing

It has been an experience, watching Pepper grow. I’ve never had children, but if I ever do, I’ll know what it feels like. Pepper continues to level up by the month as I receive more beta feedback, and the process is ever so satisfying.

I can’t help but feel parental pride in my heart, if that’s what it is, as I’ve helped grow this character. Pepper is like a daughter to me. I’ve been with her through all the pain, pleasure, and confusion she’s experienced. She’s become a huge part of my life, years I will never regret.

Although I have multiple books planned for Ethereal Seals, followed by additional arcs, her universe will eventually be put to rest. It will be a sad moment in my life, but one I will also look back fondly upon.

I thank the Creator for gifting me this creative ability, to construct and refine fantastic characters like Pepper Slyhart. Not everyone will like her, but I’m confident she will have a dedicated fanbase one day. Thanks again for reading!


I’m currently expanding my platform onto Mailchimp to develop a mailing community. Members will receive free poetry, short stories, and other gifts once Mailchimp is up and running. 

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Ethereal Seals Front Page Redesign!

(This is a replica of my newly designed front page. It serves as a reflective essay and cataloging exercise. I talk about my WIPs, objectives of this blog, and other goodies. I hope you find this post engaging and informative. Thanks for reading.)


 

EdWhite_BusinessCard

Hello, my name is Ed White. I’m an aspiring writer and graphic designer, developing my skills for a host of writing and art projects. I’ve been a designer all my life, and I regularly strive to improve myself through the feedback of my community.

Below, I’ll discuss what projects I’m working on as well as what you can expect from this website.

—Introduction—

 My Goals

As a student of the quill and brush, I enjoy exposing myself to new media every day. These include books, movies, video games, and real-life scenarios. I’m currently working on two manuscripts:

  1. Dragonsblade—a high fantasy novel, part of a series
  2. Tempest of the Dragon—a historical fantasy novel set in ancient Japan

I’m also working on a few short stories with the writing groups in my area. I plan to publish these creative works in the future and share my stories with the world.

What You Can Expect Here

Here’s what you can find on this blog:

  • Writing tips
  • Short stories
  • Digital art
  • Rough manuscript tidbits
  • Reflective essays
  • Anything else I think of as I go along

—Book I: Dragonsblade—

Here I’ll discuss my primary writing projects, beginning with an overview of the WIP and a synopsis.

History

Dragonsblade was my first major writing project. It started as an idea between friends in high school. Over the years, the story and characters evolved into a detailed manuscript spanning several books.

About Dragonsblade

The first book is a 130,000-word manuscript. Catering to fantasy and sci-fi readers alike, this high fantasy novel incorporates a combination of creative and spiritual elements that are seen in books like Eragon and Star Wars.

Synopsis

Pepper Slyhart, a reviled—yet innocent—half-dragon in the world of Atlas, believes she’s worth more than what her gender or race suggests. She finds her dreary life shattered during a casual day with her friend and clergyman, Tarie Beyworth.

Through the will of a hermit named Razaeroth, Pepper inherits her father’s old sword. Pepper learns of a clan of druid fanatics, bent on overthrowing Atlas’ decaying empire for the sake of civilization. She vows to stop the druids and save Atlas as a knight blessed by the gods.

#fantasy #highfantasy #sciencefiction #romance #adventure #spirituality

—Book II: Tempest of the Dragon—

Tempest of the Dragon is currently an alpha manuscript and still in development. I intend to work on this book earnestly once Dragonsblade is published.

History

I have always been a fan of Japanese works—anime, manga, and historical facets of Japanese culture. Tempest of the Dragon is my creative passion using that intrigue for Japan, particularly the mythology.

About Tempest of the Dragon

Because the manuscript is unfinished, I can only give estimates about the book. I am aiming for a 100,000 to 120,000-word range. The story will cater to fantasy and historical readers. There will be hints of romance and spiritual concepts as subplots.

Synopsis

Kyosenko, a samurai outcast in Japan, discovers his destiny with a girl named Mina, a cursed Black Dragon in disguise. He vows to protect the ensorcelled girl with his life,  venturing with her across ancient Japan—to a place where Mina may find salvation for Japan. But there is another threat, an organization that wishes to capture Mina and abuse her arcane powers—the Kaji Clan.

#fantasy #romance #adventure #historicalfiction #spirituality

—Other Works I’ve Published—

America’s Emerging Poets 2018 New York & New Jersey

There are few places as attuned to language as New York and New Jersey. Two perpetually groundbreaking states, they’re home to major industries, high culture, and a level of diversity unlike anywhere in the world. Their residents speak in countless languages, but the same gritty pride rolls off every tongue, especially in poetry. And in America’s Emerging Poets 2018: New York and New Jersey, 70+ up-and-coming poets have their own chance to shine.

Covering a wide array of topics ranging from love and heartbreak, family and friendship, the inherent beauty of nature, and so much more, these young talents will amaze you. Containing one poem per poet, this anthology is a compelling introduction to the great wordsmiths of tomorrow.

#poetry #nature #family #romance

America’s Emerging Poets 2019 New York & New Jersey

In New York, history comes alive. The cascading waters of Niagara Falls and the verdant Catskill Mountains exemplify nature’s beauty, while the bustling metropolis of New York City pulsates with the hopes and dreams of eight million residents. In the Empire State, poets have the world in their hands.

And in New York’s Best Emerging Poets 2019, 50 up-and-coming poets have the chance to share their own worlds. Covering a wide array of topics ranging from love and heartbreak, family and friendship, the inherent beauty of nature, and so much more, these young talents will amaze you. Containing one poem per poet, this anthology is a compelling introduction to the great wordsmiths of tomorrow.

#poetry #nature #family #romance

—Thanks for Reading—

On a final note, I would like to thank you for visiting my webpage. I hope you enjoy the content produced here. I cherish any feedback and support from my viewer base, be they comments, likes, or sharing my blog to others.

Click that follow button below to keep in touch with updates. Cheers.

A Big WordPress Thank You—50 Follows!

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It seems I hit another milestone: 50 follows! I wanted to take the time to thank all of you wonderful people for reading my humble blog. I may not be the best writer or blogger, but it brings a smile to my face to see others delighted by my work.

That said, I also noticed my WordPress yearly subscription just renewed as I hit 50 follows. This is an excellent opportunity to recap on the year’s progress. Doing so may give insight on where this blog heads for the future—and beyond.

—WordPress Beginnings—

How I Started with WordPress

I was halfway through my alpha manuscript for Ethereal Seals when I read good things about blogging—WordPress in particular. Many writers took up blogging, not just for building followers, but also for the sake of the craft. I find it a relaxing pastime, one that brings notice to my writing project—the chance to meet wonderful people like you.

My First Year on WordPress

Not much happened with the first few years I began WordPress in 2016 and 2017. At this time, my webpage was an unpaid subscription. I focused on designing the basic framework for my webpage and connecting it to social media. I rarely posted, mostly using the page as an archive to brainstorm and test ideas rather than a blog.

—A Rough Journey—

Enter 2018

The current year, 2018, is when I posted more routinely on my blog. I had fleshed out the skeleton for Ethereal Seals and wanted to spread word about it—early.

Unfortunately, it was rare for me to get more than a few views each week. The road was rough and depressing. Some weeks I was too busy to blog, or I felt unmotivated. Many times I felt like throwing in the towel—and still do sometimes. The feedback I get from readers helps me push forward.

I kept blogging, regardless of my dismal results. With every post, my blogging skills improved. I explored WordPress more, discovering new ways to present my site. I read other bloggers’ pages and networked. Soon, I had a small niche of blogger buddies that I spoke with often.

Leveling Up

Early in 2018, my website had leveled up to a Personal WordPress page. I wanted my own domain for a reasonable cost. I also read that having a domain is like owning your own brand—it shows the world you’re serious about blogging and writing.

Months later, I found a job as a freelance writer. The occupation involved writing articles in a particular format. Some of you may have noticed that my presentation of articles has changed—for improved readability and organization. I’m still experimenting with it.

—A Nice Conclusion to the Year—

A Pleasant Surprise

Towards the end of 2018, I was between jobs, relying on my freelance writing to keep me afloat. I also found a local writers’ group in my village, a place for feedback and networking purposes. So far, I have enjoyed it, and the people there are helpful.

Meanwhile, I noticed my follower count improving on WordPress. I expected to get only 10 to 15 followers by year’s end. With your generous help, I’ve more than quadrupled my goal. Although I still have a long way to go, this is more than I could ever hope for. Thank you.

Looking Forward

I’m happy with the way this blog has turned out—its overall progression. My intent for the first couple of years was a casual blog without a lot of hassle.

I intend to improve my blogging skills and expand my outreach. This will—hopefully—garner more support for my writing project. I’m always looking for beta readers and helpers. If you’re interested, let me know.

Thank you all once again for your support, my little niche of readers. Without you, I may have given up long ago. Comments and even liked articles motivate me to blog and work on Ethereal Seals.

Final Remarks

With that said, I know the writer’s journey is arduous for anyone. I will remain patient and steadfast to my goals. My manuscript has improved significantly—and continues to with every editing pass.

As 2018 draws to a close, my objectives for 2019 are to save up enough money for an editor, find an agent, and begin the publishing process for Ethereal Seals book one. I intend to remain a blogger and attendee to the writers’ group. If things pan out, my book—or ebook if I self-publish—will be available by late 2019.

Thank you again for reading. Have a wonderful Christmas, New Years, Winter Solstice, or whatever it is you celebrate! Cheers. 😀


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