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Writing Tips From Carrie

Understand the power and importance of that first page. 

Think of that first page of your book as the promise you are making to your reader. That first page is the most important page you will ever write. A good first page, or, better yet, first sentence, sets up the story and lets your reader know what kind of journey they are going to experience in your work.


​The most important thing you can ever do when you first sit down to write is to spew out a truly bad first draft.

Write like your hair is on fire…like you have a story to tell and you have to blurt it out as quickly as possible or your mind will explode!


BUT…and here’s the good part, you need to do it as badly as possible.

In fact, you need to create a truly ugly, disgusting, rambling mess that only you can clean up and reshape to have beauty and lyrical moments and brilliant characters.

That bad first draft is your toolbox. It helps you understand where you might go with your story. It can tell you what works and what won’t work. It should help you define your main character more clearly. It will give you a hint of the story arc and the problems and where there are holes in your story and where you’ve told too much.

It is exactly what you need to eventually make your work lift off the page and capture not only your imagination but the interest and imagination of your reader.


Get to know your main character before you start writing your story.

Give them a birthday so you will know how old they are as the story progresses. By giving them a birthday, you will also know when they graduated from high school, what was going on in the world when they were growing up and where they fall in the continuum of life’s expectations/disappointments/desires.


Decide what they want and why. What are their motivations? Give them a place to live: a highly mortgaged home, their parents’ basement, a hip singles apartment complex, a farming community, a big city. Think about how they fit where they are living and why they might want to either stay there or move.

Most importantly, figure out their strengths as well as their weaknesses. Use these attributes to help your character maneuver their way through solving their problem.

Oh, yeah…be sure they have a problem to solve. No problem/no story.

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