So you can read my books

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


There is nothing as powerful as a changed mind

You can change your hair color, your clothing, your address, your spouse ...

But if you don't change your mind, the same results will happen again and again and again.

Most people will never grow because 

they will not step up and raise their acceptable standard, 

working through whatever barriers are holding them back.


For writers that is the unsettling question they ask themselves when they face that first blank page.

When you step through your fears, you transcend the old you. 

We writers will find that our books will flow easier ... once we start them.

What will be your first paragraph ... your first sentence ... your first word?

What is your opening supposed to do?

Your beginning must grab the reader's attention 

and compel her or him to keep on reading to find out what happens next.

It should be evocative of the novel as a whole.

But how?



What is your story about?  Do you have the basic plot down ... 

or like William Faulkner with his THE SOUND AND THE FURY, do you only have a vivid image from which to start?


 This deals with the technical aspects of the story:

Who is telling the story?  Third person or first person?  

Where is the story taking place?  

When does the story take place (era) and in the lives of the characters (developmental).   

How do you portray the plot of the story?  Backwards or forward or back and forth as with LORD JIM.

What does the MC want and why?  Who blocks the road to that goal and why?  

What effect do you want to make on the reader?

The answers to these questions will shape your novel in ways that will have long-range consequences.


Most of us go through life with our brakes on.  Step on the gas!  

Give yourself over totally to your dream.  Believe in your self enough to pound at those keys EVERY DAY.

Decide you are going to push yourself to write every day better than you did yesterday.

Each day is YOUR day.  Persevere each hour, each day, each week, each month ...

And you will see an improvement in your work.


In your beginning have your character driven by need 

to walk through a doorway of no return as with Caesar crossing the Rubicon.


You have 10 SECONDS to hook your reader or editor ... that's your first paragraph.

That 10 SECOND fact applies to the beginning of each chapter.

In THE GOOD GUY by Dean Koontz, 

a lonely man in a bar is mistakenly paid by a stranger to kill a woman.  

The real hit man sits next to him soon after.  

And the man gives the down payment to the killer to NOT KILL the woman.

He knows that soon both men will realize what has happened ... 

and his life and the woman's will be in deadly jeopardy.

The rest of the novel flows from there.


Conflict only rivets attention if EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENT has been established.

Your novel isn't about your MC -- 

It is about things HAPPENING to your MC, crafted in a way that makes us care about her or him.

In the start of THE GOOD GUY

we see a lonely man for whom the bartender cares and for whom he is deeply concerned.  

We see the lonely, haunted man sucked into a situation that makes us ask what we would do in a similar situation.

Koontz tells us less, not more.

He opens with a situation in which his protagonist has to react, make decisions, take action.  

He had something vital at stake in the opening scene.  

Koontz Shows us who the MC is 

via those decisions and actions, and thus makes us care about who he was, as well as who he will become.

I hope this has helped in some way.


  1. Ten seconds isn't a lot of time...

  2. Alex:
    Agents and editors are reading to reject. They have a large slush pile and want to weed it down just as fast as they can.

    Buying readers are looking to be wowed. And in this Twitter Age, folks don't have a long attention span. :-(

  3. Hi, Roland,

    Very informative and EXCELLENT advice. We all strive to grip our reader and it is very difficult to do in only ten seconds. BUT, we must...

    Sorry I haven't been around lately... Life is just one hit after another for me. I'm hanging in there, but I'm getting tired and beat up. But like you say we must persevere.

    I've been praying for you and Sandra whenever I visit the shrine. So you are always in my thoughts... Hope all is well....

  4. Love your posts, Roland… I think you're the master at craft and inspiration… I always learn AND get inspired when I come here. I hope you're feeling okay. I think about you quite a bit wondering how you're doing!!!

  5. Love this: "Each day is YOUR day." So important and reels me in, like a flopping fish on a hook. Why am I wasting my days? A question only I can answer. :)

  6. "Your novel isn't about your MC --

    It is about things HAPPENING to your MC, crafted in a way that makes us care about her or him."

    That has helped me today! Thanks :)
    Wow, sometimes I just need a reminder of what is important, or a direction to go in, and you have given it to me with your post. I am in the doldrums with my WIP, and that reminded me of what I need to accomplish with this current chapter. Time to get back to scrivener!

    Happy IWSG day!

  7. Michael:
    You have a lot on you right now; I understand. Your prayers are much appreciated. Sandra's back is to the wall, but she is still fighting.

    I will pray your new home is all you want it to be and that new assignments build up your finances! :-)

    A suspicious spot on my forehead turned out to be nothing to worry about thankfully. Sadly my company has replaced my reliable van with a new top-heavy, small wheeled vehicle that has blindspots: an accident waiting to happen. Ouch! But it is cheap, high resale value, and the cost of insurance is lower (for now).

    Thanks for the kind words. May the rest of your week be lovely! :-)

    I cannot conceive you to waste any day. :-) When you think about it, each day is a writing prompt: the events giving us the springboard to write our own story to. Have a lovely day.

    I am so happy that my post helped you today. Reading that boosted my morning. May your imagination be super-charged today. :-)


  8. Roland, i hope your week is going well. We can learn a lot about Page Turning Quality from those most successful writers in the world - Koonz, James Patterson, Lee Child - I devour their books. They hook you on every page and I'm sure their short chapters help too. :-)

  9. Madilyn:
    Thanks :-)

    The same wishes for your week, too. Koontz, Patterson, and Child are masters true enough. I have qualms about Patterson who uses struggling writers to do the heavy lifting in many of his novels. :-(

  10. Such wise, inspiring words, Roland. You're so right that we have to care about the characters, especially the MC, and the emotions they draw in us. This is one big reason why I never got in to John Updike much. Yes, he's a superb stylist; the man knows language. But I don't even care if his characters live or die.