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How to start writing a novel (Act I: hook readers fast)


This is part of my 12 week course on writing novels; this week we’ll be writing the first act, up to the ‘point of no return’. PS… I made a video but the video part broke, so it’s just sound. Try to focus on what’s happening – not the why, who or how. Avoid long backstory or scenes where people are sitting around thinking or talking. Show the characters interacting with the world and add as much conflict as you can (not big explosions, just small points of tension or unease). Try to make the main character like-able; show their flaws and fears or impossible desires. Basically, don’t worry too much about description, deep drama, motivation or the “why” details yet. Focus on creating an interesting few chapters that makes your protagonist sympathetic and disrupts their ordinary world.

Mapping it out (Act One)

The First Act will have about 10 to 20 chapters, and take up 25% of the story.

Here are some of the things that often happen in the first act.


 Ordinary world, building empathy

 Inciting event

 An event that creates desire or longing

 Another character asks a question that becomes a theme

 A moral dilemma

 Something embarrassing

 Character realizes external goal

 Attempts to fulfill their longing or need.

 What goal does character take action to reach?

 Call to adventure/refuses quest

 Display of flaw

 Reveals a piece of themselves

 Meets with mentor

 Takes action towards goal

 They can’t get what they want, so they change their plan

 Antagonist revealed

 Point of no return, accepts quest and commits to goal

 A problem grows out of character weakness

 New Drive for Goal

 What plan does the antagonist have to reach goal?



Watch all the videos (complete series) on YouTube


If you don’t have time to watch all the videos, but want to improve your writing craft, self-edit your book, and make a living with your writing – you can preorder my book for some exclusive bonuses.

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