Lesson 3, Topic 4

You Don’t Have to Start on Page One

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If chapter one is difficult, why not start somewhere else? If you know exactly how chapter three pans out, then go for it and jump in. You might even discover that chapter three is where the story should have started in the first place. Trust yourself to know where you’re going and the rest will come.

VIDEO: Mr Stay talks about the time he met Diana Gabaldon who told him how she writes in N-space -- non-linear writing.

Take Regular Breaks

Sitting on your backside for any length of time is not healthy. Take regular breaks. Maybe every half an hour or so. Get up, walk around, do some chores — get that oxygen flowing around your brain. If you’re going to snack, then investigate what foods will give you energy rather than drain it from you.

Don’t Hold Back

There’s a temptation among writers to withhold the “good stuff” for later on in the book, or even for another book in the series. We’re not talking about major set pieces or plot points, but there may be a line, or a character, or a moment— something that could potentially come anywhere in the story — that you’re saving as a special treat. It’s that clever thing that you wrote and you’re understandably proud of it, but you don’t want to use it yet, because it’s the best thing in the book… Does that sound familiar?

Here’s a little mantra to get you over that. Tell yourself: There’s more where that came from.

You’re a creative, and once you get up and running you have to trust yourself that there’s more water in the well.

Every single page of your novel should compel the reader to keep going. That’s not easy, but you’re not going to help yourself by holding back.

You owe it to yourself and the readers to make your writing as compelling as it possibly can be. Live in fear of boring the reader, because there’s plenty of other entertainment on the menu...


Author Joe Hill on first drafts and keeping the reader engaged: “What gives you joy?”
You Don’t Have to Start on Page One – The Bestseller Academy

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Focus on One Thing

Don’t try and write the whole thing at once. 

Concentrate one on thread for this draft: your protagonist’s story. 

You can worry about the details of subplots later. Wait and do a pass on description, the senses, and all that lovely texture on another draft.

Concentrate on getting your hero’s story right and the rest will come more easily.