You want to start any story with a strong beginning. Something that keeps the reader turning the pages. There are a few simple tips to get this right.
Start with a mystery
Joseph opened his eyes. Something hard and grey was in front of his face. His nose was aching from pressing into the floor.
The mysterious start is a good beginning for a thriller. Keep the sentences short and look for effective ways to describe the environment without creating fluff.
Tip: Fluff is the enemy of writing. Always ask yourself, does this tell me something I didn’t know? Is this description important? Is there a way I can make it better, shorter, slicker?
Start with the end
Looking at her willowy hand as it stroked her daughter face, May realised, “I am dying, child.”
Her daughter gave a small yelp as she sobbed louder.
“Listen to me child, while I still have a breath of air in my body. I need to tell you about your father.” May’s voice cracked.
“Dad died last year, mom. Don’t you remember?”
“No child, your real father is still alive and he will come for you when I am gone.”
This type of beginning lends itself to a more epic drama or fable. Generally you will want to look at more dialogue and description. Tapping into memories always gives you a feeling that is overwhelming. Describe this with sound and smell even where it is appropriate.
Once again avoid the fluff.
Start with a tale
Once upon a time…
There is a legend…
In a galaxy far far away…
These are typical beginnings for a story where you are expecting people to suspend reality and bend the rules of the universe. In this case you want to make sure to tell them what the new rules are. You can do this by showing them someone flying or walking through a closed door.
Make sure that the way you begin your book reflects how you will continue your book, don’t start fast and end up describing every detail of every rock on the mountain.
Remember that putting a book down, changing the channel or walking out of the cinema is the easiest thing in the world.
Like hands, a lot of people battle with drawing mouths. Choosing to use either the line mouth or teeth clenched mouth, all the time.
Too often we see characters speaking to each other with gritted teeth, what’s that about? Like before, it’s all about having fun and experimenting.
I use to sit for hours on end trying to get the perfect nose and the perfect eyes and in the end they were never perfect. Practice by jotting down a sketch as quickly as you can with the aim of just having fun. It’s a lot less frustrating that way.
So, with regards to the pic this week, the top two rows are men’s mouths and the bottom two rows are those of women. The big difference between the two is the fullness of the lips. I did this on the upper lip of the first guy mouth to add a good looking feminine-ish look to him.
Start the mouth by deciding what expression you want to capture then draw a basic outline of the shape, open for shocked or shouting, smiling for happy.
Now add the smaller details, the hair, the lips the teeth and tongue. Perhaps there is a mole on the top lip or a scar across the lip. I varied the mouths with things like hairy faces, fuller lips, funny expressions. Have a close look at each and give it a shot at doing some of your own.
The first steps towards writing your own book.
This week we look at how eyebrows and eyes can affect expressions and how they can depict different character personalities.
Picture 1 & 2
Sharp angles on eyebrows are usually used to depict bad guys, but the can also be used for neutral characters. I had a bit of fun with the top two and it’s pretty easy to tell what they are thinking.
In the third picture the eyebrows were placed to show fear. This is pretty universal and easy to grasp. When working with eyebrows it’s important to not forget the rest of the forehead, note how each emotion adds furrows or wrinkles to the face.
In the next illustration I’ve drawn your typical calculating, bad guy. To get this effect use black, heavy eyebrows to draw attention to the character’s personality.
Picture 5 – 8
With the last four I just had fun. The old Chinese shop owner, the goofy fat guy, the narcissistic hero, and a dark haired guy flashing a goofy smile – Note how the cheeks go up and the eyes squint.
Examine each of these and just have fun! Create a few characters of your own using what you see here!
How to get a good story plot.
This week I’d like to talk about how drawing a certain type of nose can perfectly suit your character.
Noses play a huge role in defining a face. A rounder nose makes the person look generous or greedy. A thin pointed nose makes the person look like a bad guy. A balanced small nose makes a character look pretty.
Take a look at the examples that I have added.
On the top row, I just drew some random noses to show some of the infinite variations. Don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun with the characters you draw.
The next two rows I played with some faces using different noses. Notice how each face has a certain type of nose that suits them. From left to right:
1)The typical good looking guy. Perfectly balanced features.
2)The snobbish older guy. The angle and size of his nose and facial expression is what shapes his personality.
3)The fat guy, with his fat nose. He looks very approachable.
4)The good looking African guy. Larger nose.
5)The elderly guy with the crooked old nose.
Each of the characters have their own personality, helped along by a certain type of nose.
Each nose has a different shape and size, it also has different contours. Bumps, large or small nostrils, straight or curved bridges all add up to make a huge difference.
To make illustration easier, break the nose down into three parts. The bridge of the nose, or the line that comes down the face, the tip of the nose, the nostril area.
Draw a strong straight bridge with a curved, smooth tip and long nostrils and you have a completely different look to a short curved bridge, pointy tip and small nostrils.
The most important part of a story is how you develop and portray the characters. These determines how much people like them and want to see what happens to them.
Bad characters = no reader caring = no enjoyment (no matter how engaging the concept.
Ask yourself when last you cried when something bad happened to a character in a book that you were reading or a movie that you were watching. What did that writer do to develop the character and make them a real person?