Tag Archives: obstacles

Make Character Pay an Arm, a Leg, and His First Child!

Pay an Arm, Leg, or First-born Child image Copyright © 2013 Joan Y. Edwards

“Make Character Pay an Arm, a Leg, and His First Child!” by Joan Y. Edwards

What is the cost of what your main character’s wants or needs? Make your main character pay an arm, a leg, and his first child for his goal. It has to cost him enough to make him do everything in his power to keep from paying the price. You have to make him squirm.

Picture Book

The witch twitched her head around and poked the polka-dotted princess on the forehead, “Princess, princess, so forlorn.

Give to me your true first-born child.”

Adult Fiction:

“How am I going to get to California from Charlotte? Are you kidding? Even a tank of gasoline costs an arm, a leg, and your first child.” John looked at his overalls with paint stains from his last paying job and hung his head low.

If there’s no cost, there’s no story.

Tell me your favorite stories, what the main character wanted and what it cost him?

When you’re writing a story, usually you give the main character 3 tries to get something or you give him three steps or levels to get there. In your mind, since we are all money-collectors, have the first try cost at least $50.00. The second, $100.00. And the third, $300.00.

So you don’t think in money, then it might cost him: embarrassment, betrayal, or abandonment. You say, these things wouldn’t hurt your character because he’s as tough as concrete highways or giant boulders. List 3 things he would wince at and hate, but would still be willing to do them to gain the reward, to win the battle, to get the job, etc.

If your character really wants or needs something, he will do whatever it costs. What obstacles will make your character scared? Tense? Angry? Your character will do anything to get his goal. He will put himself in danger of death to get it. In some cases, he will give up an arm, a leg, or a first-born child to get it.

Up the cost of what your character wants. If he’s willing to pay $500.00, make it cost him double. If he’s totally sure of himself and brags a lot, triple the cost. Make him jump through hoops he’s never even heard of before you created them for him.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please leave a note. You are the happy ending to my story each day.

Author of picture book, Flip Flap Floodle.

Hear Flip’s Song.

Flip helps children and adults to Never Give Up!

May you realize how great a gift to the world you are!
Accept yourself as you are.

Celebrate you every day.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2013 Joan Y. Edwards

What Is a First Page?

“What Is a First Page?” by Joan Y. Edwards

The first page is not to be mixed up with the Title Page, Copyright page, or Dedication page.

What is a first page?

  • A first page is the magnet that brings a reader in.
  • It’s the hook that brings your reader into your story and keeps him there.
  • It’s the grabber that yanks him with words and emotion so strong that he can’t set himself free, until the problem is solved at the end of the book.
  • It’s the trap that holds readers inside the pages of the book.
  • It’s the enticement to stay a little longer in this make-believe world
  • It sells the rest of your manuscript

At the most, depending upon the genre, a first page double-spaced could be 250 words.

What does the First Page Do?

What makes a great first page? It tells who, what, when, where, and why should I care? Hmm. You say. That sounds like the same thing that should be in a pitch. Yes. You’re right.  I venture to say that each page in a book should contain something about leading up to the solution of the problem or the making it worse.

A first page hints of the dilemma facing the main character.
Tells the inner and outer conflict of the main character.
Tells the setting. A sense of place – are you in the air, on the ground.
Tells the time. When you read it, you know by the first page whether it is 100 years ago or sometime in the same century as you. A sense of time of day or night.
Why should the reader care? It pulls you in with emotions that a reader can identify with.

Just for comparison and enlightenment: Let’s look at the first pages of three of your favorite top-selling books in the genre you have chosen to write in.

You get your books in front of you or go to the Amazon link to its first page.

What must a first page have? A main character, setting, time, goal, and obstacle/opposing force/villain.

Wait. That’s not all. On this first page you must also give emotional pull on the reader that shows him why he should care.

Look at 3 first pages. Have the books open to the first page or click on Amazon where they show you the first page of this best-selling book.

Print out the first page of the manuscript you’re ready to send off to a critique group, editor, or agent.

Look at the first page of the story  in Chapter One. Look for the things a first page has:

  • Main character
  • Setting
  • Time
  • Goal
  • Obstacle
  • Emotional pull (Why Should I Care? Universal Emotion)

Chances are they’ve given you hints of the major problem in the story. What’s at stake for the main character? Life? Death? Success? Fame? Fortune?

Does your first page have Pizzazz? Raise curiosity in the reader?

Can your readers relate to the main character? Feel for him? Cheer for him? Be scared with him? Cry with him?

If your manuscript lacks this emotional tug at the heartstrings of your reader, add it. When an agent or editor can’t get your character out of their heads is when you have them, hook, line, and sinker!

Good luck with your publishing dreams. Keep unwavering faith in you and your stories.

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope it inspires you.

Never Give Up!
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2012 Joan Y. Edwards