Wednesday, June 2, 2010

7 Reasons Why Your Novel's Beginning Is So Critical by Cathy Bryant

Today I am sharing an articale Cathy Bryant author of Texas Roads, gave me permission to post here on my blog.

7 Reasons Why Your Novel's Beginning Is So Critical

by Cathy Bryant, (c) 2009

The first few pages of any novel are critical. How many novels have you started only to give up after a few pages? Here are seven must-haves for the beginning of your story:

1. Story Problem/Question

Every story has to have one. If your story doesn't have a problem or question, then what are you writing about? Why should the reader want to turn the page to find out what happens next?

2. Character's Desire

In order for the reader to connect with the main character, they have to understand what he/she wants. And ideally, the character's goal should make sense to the reader.

3. Hook the Reader

I can usually tell if I'm going to like a book within the first few pages. Sometimes when I force myself to keep reading, I'm finally able to be drawn into the story. But most of the time it never happens. The books I can't put down are the ones that capture me from word one.

4. Connect the Reader with the Main Character

For me, this is closely related with the character's desire. When I can connect with the character via an understandable desire, I'm hooked. But it also involves more. Is the character likable? If he/she's not likable, is there a good reason why? Do I care about the character--sympathize with him/her? Do I enjoy the character's personality? Is there something about him/her I can relate to?

This was one of the most difficult things for me in writing my own novel. The author walks a fine line between leaving room for the main character to grow by showing their faults/issues and making them likable enough for the reader to connect with. There is very little wiggle room between a self-pitying, whiny heroine, and a heroine who has experienced tragedy after tragedy and is having difficulty getting past it.

5. Set the Tone of the Book

This was difficult for me as well. I wanted to show my main character as someone who had faced a lot of challenges, but also wanted the tone of the novel to fun, zippy, humorous and romantic. Very tall order, but not impossible. You should know what kind of tone to set from the very beginning or you'll end up with a mishmash that confuses the reader.

6. Establish the Story World

Helping the reader visualize where the story is taking place is crucial. When the stage is set for the reader, it lends an air of credibility to the story--makes it more real and lifelike. This is true whether you're writing romance or science fiction. Without setting, the characters float around with nothing to connect them to reality. Use the five senses to help your fictional world come to life.

7. Establish the Conflict

Every novel needs conflict. Donald Maass, author of Writing The Breakout Novel, says you need it on every page. Without it, the story is flat and boring. The conflict should be both internal and external.

Check the first chapter of your work in progress. Does it have these seven components? If so, you're on your way to a great story. If not, try to add them in and see how much your story improves.

A Texas gal since birth, Cathy lives in a century-old farmhouse with her husband and a phobia-ridden cat. Her debut novel, TEXAS ROADS, was a 2009 ACFW Genesis finalist and tells the story of a disillusioned widow's quest to find home. The book is available through For more information, visit


2009 ACFW Genesis finalist

by Cathy Bryant

Dani Davis longs for a place to call home. With quaint country charm, quirky residents, and loads of business potential, Miller's Creek, Texas seems like the perfect place to start over...except for the cowboy who gives her a ride into town. Then malicious rumors and a devastating discovery propel her down a road she never expected to travel.

Cowboy mayor Steve Miller is determined to rescue his dying hometown. When vandals jeopardize the Miller's Creek renovation, he can't help but suspect Dani whose strange behavior has become fodder for local gossips. Will Steve and Dani call a truce for a higher cause, and in the process help Dani discover the true meaning of home?


  1. Excellent article, Cathy. I just won a copy of Texas Roads and am excited to read it.

    Wishing you the best,


  2. Casey, thanks so much for using an article at your blog. I appreciate it so much! More points for SUMMER SPLASH for you!!! =)

    Cheryl, congrats on winning TEXAS ROADS! Woo-hoo! Enjoy!

  3. @ Cheryl, glad you were able to benefit!

    @Cathy, I know, so much fun to rack up points!! :) Thank you!


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According to new FTC rules I must let you, the reader know, that all views shared on this blog are strictly my own. Books to review are either provided for me by the author, publisher or ones I have purchased and I am under no obligation whatsoever to present anything, but my true opinion on any product. I receive no monetary compensation for anything written on this blog. Any giveaways on this blog are provided by the author/ publisher and I am not responsible for any views they express in their work or on this site. Giveaways are void were prohibited and chances of winnng are based on the number of applicants. A random winner is draw when a book is given away.

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