Back when I was reading slush for PodCastle, one of the things that would get me to perk up was when a writer would introduce a clear character motivation within the first page. This didn’t have to be anything major. In fact, it didn’t necessarily have to be the focus of the story. I just wanted to feel a sense of purpose from the get-go. I hated reading a story and not having a clear understand of why I was reading.
If you ever have the chance, check out Jim Butcher’s panel on his approach to writing. (I’ll embedded the video below). He covers a bunch of different topics but his ideas on the focus of a scene is kind of what I use to gauge other works. In his book Stormfront, his protagonist is introduced with a clear motivation that he needs to pay his rent. Though the greater part of the novel doesn’t revolve around this, it provides an early focus to help the reader make it through the first few pages.
Stories don’t need to have this, and several critical acclaimed ones don’t. For me, it would take something else to stand out and catch my interest in order for me to continue reading. Insert something about Patrick Rothfuss or Ursula K. LeGuin’s prose because they are art onto themselves.
I know this was a quick post, but I figured I wouldn’t stress much over length anymore. I just want to write occasionally, with a goal of at least once a week and move on from there. I might even have a bit more frequent super short posts just to check in. Thanks for reading, and if it isn’t too much trouble, I would love for you to input your email and hit the subscribe button below!