When I'm not writing,I teach Biology and Algebra to teenagers. When I'm not teaching, I'm pursuing my love of Art History, buried deep inside of a museum or I'm traveling with my husband and daughter. The Inadvertent Thief is my first novel and I am hard at work on my second.
Leti has an amazing blog were she talks all about writing and what it is like being a writer. She gives helpful tips and tricks for writing as well as ways to self publish. Here is a one of her most resent posts about writing a chapter.
It is crucial to have an outstanding first chapter. Without it, your reader will stop reading. No matter how exciting your story eventually gets, if chapter one isn’t engaging enough, they will never get to the good stuff. If you e-publish your work, then the situation is even more critical. We all know that readers can download a sample for free. If that sample doesn’t capture a reader’s imagination then they won’t purchase the rest of it. Using some amazing opening scenes in film, I have compiled a checklist of essential elements for any chapter one.
Introduce the problem. This is the problem that will drive the rest of the story and the problem your protagonist will struggle with. Introduce it to your reader right away with an inciting incident or by altering the world of your protagonist in some important way. Citizen Kane, arguably one of the best films ever made, opens with a wealthy old man dying. His last word is “Rosebud”. What does it mean? What is it all about? The rest of the film is devoted to finding out. The problem and even a hint at the solution is put into the very first scene. We know what the problem is before we even know who Kane is. It is that important. When you introduce a problem in chapter one, you captive your audience and compel them to keep them reading.
Start with a hook. The hook is something intriguing that will pique the reader’s interest. This can be an exciting event or something strange and mysterious. A great way to hook your reader is to plunge your protagonist into some trouble immediately. The Touch of Evil, also directed by Orson Wells, is a gritty crime drama that opens with a bomb being set, then put in a car, then two people get in, they drive into traffic, pass our protagonist and a whole lot of other people and then explode on the Mexican-American boarder. Just like that: excitement, intrigue, danger and even mystery right off the bat.
Establish the rules. Let the reader know when and where your story takes place. Better yet, immerse them into the world you have created. The opening to Star Wars is one of the most often spoofed because it is just that memorable. After a scrolling paragraph that tells the audience what it needs to know, we see an incredibly large ship that takes forever to cross the screen. Right away we know this is about space and whoever is in charge, is a force to be reckoned with. When you think about it, that’s all you need to know.
Hint at how it will end. A well thought out chapter one will foreshadow what happens in the end. It will hint at the climatic ending and gives your readers closure. To make this even more fantastic, begin something exciting in chapter one and then spend the rest of the story building up to that moment. This is expertly done in the opening scene of Mission Impossible 3 where Tom Cruise is tied to a chair and trying to convince Philip Seymour Hoffman not to kill his fiancé. Why is he tied up? Who is this girl he cares so much about? Does she make it? If you’ve never watched it, I dare you to turn this movie off after watching that scene.
And now for the granddaddy of all opening scenes… Jaws opens with an unsuspecting shark attack. This scene introduces the problem: the shark. It starts with a hook: the shark attack. It establishes the rules: swimmers in danger of shark attacks. It hints at how it will end: Something is going to happen to that shark. This opening scene made millions (including my sister) afraid to get into water. What could be more captivating? Want to see some more great opening scenes? Check out The Film Stage for more stellar examples in film. Watch them, get inspired and remember to use this checklist when crafting an compelling first chapter.
Leti Del Mar is a Author who brings the story to life and makes the words leap right up off the page. She brings Action and Romance and Danger and rolls them all into one and then throws them at you. She is a brilliant and a express full author who makes you never want to leave the pages of her book!
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you've been writing?
I teach Biology and Algebra to teenagers but have a strong background in Literature and Art History. All of these components and interests came together when I dreamed up my debut novel, The Inadvertent Thief. Although I have tinkered a bit with writing short stories in the past, I have only really been writing for about 3 years.
Q: Can you please tell us a little about your book The Inadvertent Thief and what inspired you write it?
As a long time lover of Art History, I am always in museums. One day I started to really pay attention to how paintings are secured and started to wonder how I would go about stealing one. Since I’m not the sort of person to go around stealing things, I started to wonder what would make me steal a painting and soon the premiss of The Inadvertent Thief was born. It is about a security specialist who decides to steal back two paintings that she has been hired to protect.
Q: In The Inadvertent Thief Vivian learns many skills as a thief what was your favorite?
I love all the gadgets she develops and learns how to use. As a long time James Bond fan, I am always attracted to the high-tech gizmos and gadgets. The fact that she builds them herself is just icing on the cake.
Q: Do you have plans to write another book in The Inadvertent Thief Series?
I do but I am currently working on a YA Dystopian Sci-Fi. I have the the sequel to the Inadvertent Thief outlined and I think it will be ready summer or fall of 2014. The next installment involves a missing sculpture from the Italian Renaissance and the crew goes to Italy in search of it!
Q: Are any of your characters in your books based on people in your real life?
Lots of them! I just hope the people I know don’t figure that out, especially a certain ex-boyfriend...
Q: If faced with the same problems as Vivian would you be able to be a thief?
Absolutely. At every stage of the story I questioned Vivien’s motives and decided if I was comfortable with them. She is no criminal mastermind, just an intelligent woman in unusual circumstances.
Q: What made you decide to write a Romantic Suspense/Thriller novel?
The suspense/thriller aspect seemed to fit with the art theft premise and since I am an incurable romantic, I just can’t imagine writing anything without adding at least a little romance.
Q: What are you working on at the moment / next?
I am working on a YA Dystopian Sci-Fi Romance called Land of the Unaltered. It will be released this July! Here is a quick synopsis:
Rose is from the capitol and has a secret she can't get far enough from, Flynn is from Land of the Unaltered and hates everything the capital stands for; together they forge a bond and discover the shocking truth that changes everything.
Q: When you are not writing what is it you do to unwind? Any Hobbies?
I love to read to unwind. I also love to travel so I’m always planning a trip with my family. Honestly, with a toddler, I don’t get a whole lot of down time.
Q: If your own life was a subject of a book what type of fiction would it be: humor, horror, love story etc...?
Humor. I spend my working hours with teenagers and then come home to a toddler. You can’t do that without having a good sense of humor.
Q: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
No but I have alway loved to read. Then one day, not so long ago, I thought ‘I could do this’.
Q: What is your advice for aspiring writers?
Never stop learning your craft and get comfortable with the business side of being an author.
Q: Thank you so much for your interview, Leti. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and where everyone can buy your book?
My blog Words With Leti Del Mar: http://wordswithletidelmar.blogspot.com/
Buy my book on:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-inadvertent-thief-leti-del-mar/1111429063?ean=2940014772037