Wisdom From Established Writers

Way back in 1982, a popular author, Phyllis A. Whitney, wrote a book for writers.  The title was Guide to Fiction Writing and it was published by The Writer, Inc. (It’s out of print now, but you can pick up a used copy online easy enough.)  At the time she wrote this book, she had over 60 novels published, some for adults and some for young adults. Her adult novels were romantic suspense and she sold many copies of them.  Her book goes into detail about both her writing methods and technique.  I’d like to share with you some bits of writing wisdom from Ms. Whitney over the next several months.  Here’s the first installment on writing beginnings:


Probably the best way to start any story…is to show a character with a problem doing something interesting.  The more quickly you can make what is happening clear, the more likely you’ll be to draw your reader into your story.  The old questions that have always been set down in books on writing are still necessary to consider: Who? What? Where? When? Why? It’s seldom easy to answer all of them quickly and gracefully in those first pages.  Long expositions, descriptions, philosophizing, may entertain you, but are unlikely to grip a busy reader today.  The reader doesn’t have to know everything right away.  Yet he mustn’t be left in a state of confusion either.

In your opening, you will need to establish the immediate problem that faces your main character.  You will also make it clear why your character can’t solve this problem easily.  Expect to do your beginning over several times. I usually write a first opening in which I explain everything and get it off my chest.  Only then can I read it through and decide which parts of the mass of explanation are really needed right now.

Next month some tips on writing middles.


About Sue

From the time, as a young girl, when Sue read the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, she was hooked on fantasy. She loves to read fiction and write within many genres, but she always winds up going back to fantasy. For years she has had fantasy stories spinning around in her head and now that she is retired from many years of teaching, she is putting those stories into book form. She has many interests, including quilting and playing the mountain dulcimer, but writing is the most satisfying of all. Sue lives in the great state of Maine with her husband of 38 years. She has been a factory worker, a waitress, a librarian, and a teacher. Her biggest job was being a mother and she has three grown children. Now that she is a grandmother, she is enjoying that role immensely.

Posted on May 4, 2013, in about writing, Authors - Sue Santore and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Great tip. Often the easiest sounding ones are the hardest to do. 😉

  1. Pingback: About Book Middles | Independent Bookworm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: