How “The Road” hooks readers: Rooting for the underdog

How author Cormac McCarthy creates vulnerable characters that engage our emotions in his Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Road. Also, how the literary theories of Greek philosopher Aristotle still apply today, and what the modern anti-hero gets right and wrong. Watch the video above and read the transcript on Medium.

How “Cloud Atlas” hooks readers: Delivering the Unexpected

How author David Mitchell uses unexpected structure and unexpected language to hook readers in his novel Cloud Atlas. Plus, how the psychological concept of flow applies to great writing. Watch the video above and read the transcript (with extras) on Medium.

Learning from “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman: Building a world

Great writers build spaces for compelling stories and settings that capture our imagination. Here’s how author Neil Gaiman hooks readers using exploration and discovery of a setting in Chapter 1 of his novel Coraline. Watch the video above and read the transcript on Medium.

How Susanna Clarke starts “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell”: Big questions

How author Susanna Clarke asks the right questions to hook readers and drive the story in the opening chapter of her fantasy novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Also, how the philosophy of Romanticism comes alive in the story and setting, and what writers can learn from kids cartoons. Watch the video above and read the transcript on Medium.

How Yann Martel starts “Life of Pi”: The power of first-person storytelling

In Life of Pi, Yann Martel searches for the “spark that brings to life a real story.” Life of Pi itself uses first-person storytelling to light that spark. Let’s see how Yann Martel uses the power of first person in the opening chapters to hook the reader, and why the novel starts before the first page. Watch the video above and read the transcript on Medium.

How J. K. Rowling starts “The Philosopher’s Stone”: Voice vs Exposition

How J. K. Rowling’s first three chapters of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone hooked her readers, agents, and editors, using voice, mystery, and nostalgia. Watch the video above and read the transcript on Medium.

The End and the death of perpetual storytelling

A few minutes ago, I finished the outline of the final chapter of my novel. In some ways, I am relieved that the end is finally in sight. Yet I can’t help but acknowledge that a great part of me right now almost mourns the loss of that perpetuity, that ongoing storytelling process.

I’ve known for some time now that I love beginnings. That “once upon a time” magic is something that inevitably morphs into something else somewhere in the middle. You can’t sustain “once upon a time” until the end of the story. At some point, the story changes into a series of “and then, and then.” It all culminates with those fateful words: “The End.” But those first few pages of a story are the pages I most love to write, because I get into this authorial storyteller role that gives me the same high as most people get from talking about themselves. Besides, it’s just a whole lot of fun to break into a new story, to take someone away, to take hold of them and not let go. Read more