Thursday, July 13, 2006

Giving it Away

(Homework for Your Story, Part 4)
By Nichole Giles

Over the last four weeks, I have passed onto you—the reader—the homework assignments given to me at a writing workshop at BYU. I have done this because these assignments were instrumental in helping me reshape my story into something even better than it was when I first wrote it, and because I believe thinking about and doing these things can help other writers better develop their stories.

Someone once asked me if I felt like I was freely giving away something I had paid for. My answer is no. The truth is, I could copy and paste all my notes and all the handouts I received during that week, and send them to each one of my writer friends and they still wouldn’t have learned half of what I did by just being there.

In the morning, a portion of my manuscript is going in the mail to an agent in New York. Am I nervous? Absolutely. But I am confident that my story is better than it has ever been. So tonight, before I pray about the fortune of my manuscript, I’m going to share one last homework assignment with the LDS WRITERS BLOGCK readers. Pay special attention to this assignment; it was the basis for the complete makeover of my manuscript.

Assignment 4: Rewrite the first page of your story. Include in it the following points:
1. Who is the main character? Include one important thing about him or her.
2. When and where is this story?
3. What is the story’s problem?
4. What makes this day different?

If your readers can answer all these questions in the first page of your book, they will be hooked. If a publisher or agent can answer all these questions by reading your first page, they might be inclined to keep reading. Isn’t that what we are all aiming for?

Special thanks to Martine Leavitt for assigning this homework to the workshop participants—including me—and extra special thanks for her willingness to let me share these assignments with our blog readers.

Thanks for reading, thanks for writing, and most of all thanks for being. For what is a writer without a reader? You are my readers, and today I want to thank you—whomever and wherever you are—for giving me the chance to keep writing. Without you, my words would be “As dust in the wind.” (With my luck, they would end up in one of the little ‘piles’ my dog likes to leave around the yard—Yuck!)

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