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A Recipe for Golden Heart Success (from someone who never cooks)

Hearty Eating

Okay, I’m lying.  I cook.  Just not often.  And certainly not enough to give advice on the process.  But take it from someone who’s entered the Golden Heart repeatedly, who’s studied winning entries for content, word choice and that special spark, and who’s dreamed of finaling more often than she’d like to admit, this is one dish I feel confident to serve.

GOLDEN HEART SUCCESS

2 cups Story (must be fresh)

2 cups Hook (with extra sharp claws)

1 cup Voice (original recipe)

1/2 cup Risk (zesty)

1/2 cup Grammar

1 heaping tbsp Snap, Crackle and Pop

Toss in a Killer Title, a dash of Mad Skill and a dollop of Plain Old Luck and mix well.

Place in a container of Dreams and marinate.

2 cups STORY

Okay, so this is a no-brainer.  Yes, you must have a good story, but is it fresh?  New?  Does it make people think to themselves, “Dang, I would never have thought of that!”

Now, let me back up one second.  In case you are wondering, no, there are no new stories.  They’ve all been told hundreds of thousands of times.  But HOW have they been told?  Are you adding fresh twists?  Are you dazzling your reader with humor, fear or sparkling writing?  Are you giving her the unexpected?  Because that is what fresh is all about.  Giving your reader something she didn’t see coming.  Making it new and brisk.  That extra something the reader is still thinking about a week later.  A month later.

Things to ask yourself include:

  • Is your dialogue sharp?
  • Are your word choices strong?  (Weak verbs are bad.)
  • Is your concept fresh?
  • Are your characters interesting?  Intriguing?
  • Do you have unexpected twists that leave your reader breathless and begging for more?

Look at it this way.  If you were an editor, sitting at your desk, reading submissions day in and day out, looking for that something special, that concept that is so marketable, so utterly unique (aka, high concept), would you buy your manuscript?  What will set your story apart from the thousands they receive each month?

Wait for it…

Wait for it…

Got it?

Now, put THAT in your Golden Heart entry.

For more great tips on story, see my fellow Ruby-Slippered Sister’s blog, Laurie Kellogg’s Go for the Gold, here:

https://www.rubyslipperedsisterhood.com/go-for-the-gold/

2 cups HOOK

Hook is a particular passion of mine.  I’ve been studying them a lot.  Mostly because I want to become a best-selling author.  🙂

Hooks are multi-dimensional and should be found throughout your manuscript, not just in the first line.  So where should they be?

  • Your first line should hook the reader with razor-sharp talons.
  • The last line of your first paragraph.
  • The last line of your first page.
  • The first and last lines of each scene, and some say, each and every paragraph.

*Some of my favorite first lines:

  • Alongside a country lane in Cheshire, England, Miss Judith Shelton raised a delicate lace parasol, designed to protect her skin from the dangers of the July sun, and waited for the approaching carriage to run her down. —Louse Bergin, A WORTHY OPPONENT
  • It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.  —Jane Austen, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
  • You better not never tell nobody but God.  —Alice Walker, THE COLOR PURPLE
  • I stiffened at the red and blue lights flashing behind me, because there was no way I could explain what was in the back of my truck. —Jeanine Frost, HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE
  • “Oh, honey, major stud alert.  Three o’clock.”  —Sherrilyn Kenyon, KISS OF THE NIGHT
  • Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. —JK Rowling, HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE

Okay, I could do this all day.  But here is something that many new writers don’t know:

  • The last words of a sentence, any sentence, carry the most weight and that is where the emphasis of any sentiment should be placed.

Look at the lines above.  Where is the most important part of the message? 

Example:

  • The cart lumbered up the gravely road, fighting desperately to gets its cargo to safety, its wheels straining against the weight it bore.

What is the most important part of that sentence?  It’s probably not the weight, but the hint of danger to its cargo.  Let’s try this:

  • The cart lumbered up the gravely road, its wheels straining against the weight it bore, fighting desperately to gets its cargo to safety.

Better.  The emphasis is in the right spot.  Know this.  Pay attention to where you place concepts in your sentences and utilize this staple.  It makes for stronger, cleaner writing.

Come back tomorrow for more tips on how to BE A SUCCESSFUL HOOKER from my Ruby Sister Rita Henuber!

1 cup VOICE

I recently read the best definition of voice that I’d ever read before.  ”Voice is what you bring to the table.”  It’s who you are and is built from your own personal experiences.  It is your personality shining through your word choices, your wit, the twists and turns you choose to include.

Does this mean that if you are not a funny person, you cannot write humor?  Not at all!  There are numerous writers known for their wit who are known just as well for being absolutely humorless at the dinner table.  There are writers admired for their brazen courage who never look you in the eye.

My point is that you can find your voice.  Again, this is where knowing the rules well enough to break them appropriately comes in handy.  Know your genre.  Know what readers want.  Use what you have and hone your writing style into something uniquely yours.

For more information on voice, see my fellow Ruby Sister’s blog, Jeannie Lin’s Why I Finaled, or…How I Found my Voice Just in Time, here:

https://www.rubyslipperedsisterhood.com/why-i-finaled-or-how-i-found-my-voice-just-in-time/

½ cup RISK

Take a bit of a risk.  Make your entry different enough to stand out from the pack.  Make it fresh and memorable.  I have to admit, I took quite a risk with my manuscript and I’d wondered if I went too far.  Obviously not.  It won.  So don’t be afraid to scoot to the edge and dangle your feet over the side of a sheer cliff.  Risk gets the adrenaline pumping for both you and your reader.  Oh, and perhaps a Golden Heart judge as well.

½ cup GRAMMAR

Yes, your grammar needs to be spot on.  I’m not saying you can’t break the rules.  In fact, if you don’t break a couple, you’re probably doing something wrong.  You’re not taking that risk we talked about earlier.  But you have to know the rules before you can break them.

My personal favorite books on grammar and style are:

  • Strunk and White’s THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE
  • Bill Walsh’s LAPSING INTO A COMMA and THE ELEPHANTS OF STYLE (These are amazing.  Seriously, I’d marry Bill Walsh if he’d have me.  And if I weren’t already married.)
  • Lynne Truss’s EATS, SHOOTS & LEAVES
  • Patricia T. O’Connor’s WOE IS I

1 heaping tbsp SNAP, CRACKLE AND POP

You know what I’m talking about.  That spark.  That sizzle that brings your words to life.  ‘Nuff said.

1 KILLER TITLE

Ahhh, another passion of mine.  And one I’ve researched thanks to some writers who turned me onto the fact that they could predict the results of the Golden Heart with 75% accuracy just by looking at the titles.  75%!  And then they proved it.

So let’s look at this year’s winners:

  • Second Chance for a Family, by Kim Law
  • Romance or Retribution, by Jamie Michele
  • Easy Money, by Vivi Andrews
  • Butterfly Swords, by Jeannie Lin
  • Kitty’s Fire , by Kelly Ann Riley
  • Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure , by Diane O’Brien Kelly
  • First Grave on the Right, by Darynda Jones
  • An Inconvenient Marriage, by Sara Ramsey
  • Only Fear, by Anne Marie Becker
  • Stage Fright, by Shoshana Dawn Brown

You’ll notice that many of them are either humorous or edgy.  They have a spark that draws attention, and when you are trying to final in the Golden Heart, you want all the sparkly attention you can get.

1 dash of MAD SKILL

Practice, practice, practice.  You know that old saying, “You have to write a thousand pages before you can get published”?  Yeah.  Trust me on this one.

And read.  What do aspiring artists do in college?  Yes, they practice. But they also study the masters, and for good reason.  If you aren’t studying the masters, learning by example, then you aren’t growing as a writer.  Yes, writers write.  But writers read as well.  Period.

1 dollop of LUCK

I still believe there is a certain amount of luck involved in all of this.  The process is still very subjective, as is the entire publishing world.  So the Golden Heart does reflect that subjectivity.  Our jobs are to narrow the playing field, to propel our manuscripts to the top of the pack and make them shine with such brilliance that people simply must sit up and take notice.

Hopefully this recipe will help you get there.

And don’t forget to marinate in a container of dreams, also known as your heart.

Thank you so much for visiting!!!

*I will be giving away a first chapter critique (up to 25 pages) or a gorgeous Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood mug to one lucky commenter!

105 responses to “A Recipe for Golden Heart Success (from someone who never cooks)”

  1. Gwynlyn MacKenzie says:

    And you were concerned about this? Spot on, doll. Excellent from the concept to the end. You are now the Emeril of the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood ’cause what you have cooking sounds like a feast to me.

    Well done. {{{Hugs}}}

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      LOL! Thank you, Gwynlyn!!! Isn’t it funny how worried we get over these things?

      Hugs and have a wonderful day!
      ~D~

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  2. Jeannie Lin says:

    Wow! Wonderful insight here Darynda. This post went a lot of places I don’t usually think about. I love the advice about paying attention to the end of sentences as well as hooking at the end of paragraphs. I spend a lot of time rearranging the order of how things are presented when I polish so the little gems aren’t buried and forgotten — and you helped me realize this is why!

    Like Gwynlyn mentioned, you also had me thinking shades of Emeril – “BAM!” To really get a reader’s attention, sometimes it’s not good enough to shine, you have to sparkle. And you’ve definitely taught us how to sparkle.

    And thanks for referencing previous blogs to bring it all together! Congrats on the amazing sale on First Grave on the Right. You’re an example of how luck favors the prepared. 🙂

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      Thank you so much, Jeannie!!! Your post was so great too, I just loved it!

      Hugs you and have a great day!
      ~D~

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  3. Shea Berkley says:

    Fantastic advice! I love the recipe angle and I’m eating it up. (yeah, I know, lame humor)

    Let me see … story? Check. Hook? Check. Voice? Big check. Risk? Double check. Grammar and all that crackling stuff? Lay on another check. Killer title? Huge check. Mad skills? Baby, you got those in abundance! Massive check. Luck? Here’s where you’re wrong. You never needed it. You’re awesome, Darynda. I’m so excited for you. I can’t wait to read First Grave when it comes out.

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      I love you, Shea! Thank you so much. You will always be my hero and the person I aspire to write like. Won’t actually happen, but a girl can dream, right?

      Bunches of hugs!
      ~D~

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  4. Darynda, if there were a Golden Heart for blog posts, this one would win! What a tasty recipe for success–thank you! I’m off to find some of that some snap, crackle’n pop.

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  5. Great post Darynda! Especially loved the advice about the last word in a sentence. Excellent examples, too!Thanks!

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    • Jeannie Lin says:

      It’s one of those “a-ha” moments when you find a little trick like that. Thanks for stopping by.

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      Thank you, Tereasa! I remember when I learned that, I was like, nuh-uh. Then I too saw some examples and the lightbulb flitted on.

      It takes me a while to catch on. Good times.
      Hugs,
      ~D~

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  6. Martha W says:

    Moseyed over here from the PRO-ORG post you put up… and boy am I glad I did! This is a great post and I love recipes. I am currently polishing my ms for GH and these are great reminders of what to look for.

    I can’t wait to see what you say about being a successful hooker! Woohoo! 🙂

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  7. Loved the post Darynda! The checklist and examples are great. On Risk–you said don’t be afraid of going too far and that’d you’d done that in your manuscript. Can you expand–would love to hear about this!
    Thanks bunches!

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      I was thinking I probably should have explained that. Basically, I did things that I wasn’t sure would fly with GH judges. I used a few curse words. I didn’t overdo it but you never know who that might offend, you know? And my character “seems” unsympathetic to the people she is helping (dead people for the most part), and I thought that might turn people off. And there is a pretty hot scene in the first chapter, tho it is short and sweet. I call it “The Shower Scene”. LOL.

      I was just worried that I pushed too many boundaries, but apparently no one minded. My scores, when I finally got them, were fantastic.

      Then again, I did enter the paranormal cateogry. I’m sure it is a tad more lenient than others, but I say push the boundaries. Or at least nudge them.

      Thank you so much for stopping by, Marian!
      ~D~

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      • Elisa Beatty says:

        Dead people AND a hot shower scene right off the bat?

        Okay, I REALLY can’t wait for FIRST GRAVE to come out!!

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      • LOL on the title analysis. Does it change things if the GH presenter stumbles over a title as she reads it, muttering, “Oh, this is lovely”? I thought I’d die, right then and there.

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        • Darynda Jones says:

          OH, that’s awful too. It’s not as if yours is difficult. If it had been me, I probably would have done the same thing. I can hardly talk when I’m nervous. 🙂

          Hugs you!
          ~D~

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  8. ~*~Barb~*~ says:

    Great plan of action. Love the cooking format. 😉

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  9. I can just see your smile as you whisked this all together. I love hooks, everywhere. Can’t wait to read Rita’s post tomorrow. And I love weighty sentences. Very important. I find myself rewriting lines as I read other authors, just to get that BAM at the end. Great advice.

    (((HUGS))
    AJ

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      Too funny, AJ! Isn’t it interesting how some sentences just don’t quite have that punch we’re looking for? I think placement is a big reason.

      Hugs and thanks so much for stopping by!
      ~D~

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  10. KM Fawcett says:

    Great blog. Lots to think about. Love the first line examples. They made me realize I need a much better first line. Thanks!

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      Thank you, KM! First lines are the HARDEST! It took three people to write the first line of my manuscript before it was sent off to the copyeditor. Me, my chapter mate and Ruby Sister Shea Berkley and my editor. Phew! That thing was stubborn!

      Thanks for stopping by!
      ~D~

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      • About six years ago or more, my local chapter started a fun inside holiday hook contest for our end of year gathering. I was President at the time. Ha! The contest really shows the members the importance of that first line. Our members come with some great ones. So much so, you’d wish they’d write the book to go with them.

        Without a great first line, there won’t be a second one read.

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  11. Diana Layne says:

    I’m struggling with the first line on my synopsis! Ugh, synopses are right up there with query letters! big frown.

    That ending a sentence with the weightiest word, Margie Lawson calls it “backloading” in her EDITS workshop.

    Very cute and informative post, Ms. D, great going! My head is going back in the sand now. 🙂

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      Ah, synopses. Right up there with queries is right. Good luck on that line, Diana!

      And I knew someone would have a term for that weight thing. I’ve taken Margie’s Character Emotions class, but not her EDITS yet.

      Thanks for stopping by!
      ~D~

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  12. Great article, Darynda. Informative but also very entertaining. Can’t wait for your book to come out. And thanks for the plug!

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      Thank you, Laurie! And your post was awesome. I felt like I was repeating things that you’d already said brilliantly.

      Hugs and have a great day!
      ~D~

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  13. Elisa Beatty says:

    Fabulous post, Darynda! I’m going to print out your list of places that need hooks and post it over my computer….

    And I love the advice to take risks, and throw something at the reader that they don’t see coming.

    Very inspiring!!

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      Thank you so much, Elisa! I was really hoping this whole thing made sense. lol. Glad I could inspire ’cause that’s my favorite thing to do.

      Hugs, you!
      ~D~

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  14. Amy Talley says:

    I loved that you gave examples. So very helpful. I hate when people talk about a concept and don’t give the reader an example. Doesn’t make it as relevant. Now I’m going back over the scene I’m working on in my WIP. I think I’m lacking the hooks I need to make it snap, crackle and pop!

    Thanks, D! You rock!

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      Oh, me too, Amy. I really need examples to learn by.

      Good luck with your scene and thank you so much!
      ~D~

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  15. This is a brilliant post — your recipe should state “serves everyone”! I’m printing this out for inspiration when my writing doesn’t seem tasty enough.

    Thanks!

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  16. Loved your recipe for success. Now, I’m going to have to go back rearrange some of my sentences to get the ‘BAM’ at the end. Your examples are great. I’m going to have to make a comprehensive cheat sheet with all of these fabulous tips from these amazing posts.

    I’m definitely looking forward to reading about being a successful hooker. LOL. Oh the titles we can come up with. *G*

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      Aren’t all the posts fabulous, Jennifer? So much information and wonderful tips. It’s like a gold mine in here.

      And I can’t wait for the Happy Hooker one too!
      Thanks for stopping by!
      ~D~

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  17. Barb H says:

    Thanks for the post, Darynda, especially the reminder to take risks. Even when I begin with good intentions of putting my characters through the mill, I find myself softening towards them as the story proceeds. I just don’t want anything to happen to the dears. 🙂 I know, gotta change that attitude.

    Can’t wait to read your book.

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    • Shea Berkley says:

      It’s hard not to get protective of your characters. I look at it this way. We must love our characters enough to put them through hell and then bring them back.

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      • Darynda Jones says:

        Thank you, Barb, and that’s a great way of looking at it, Shea!!! One of my favorite quotes is from Donald Maass:

        “Remember, they’re NOT REAL. You make them up. It’s okay to torture them.”

        But we do get attached, huh?

        Thanks for stopping by, Barb!
        ~D~

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        • I, too, have trouble torturing my characters. I want them to be happy and in love, doggone it! 😀

          But I know it makes for a more interesting story when they’re miserable for at least a little while …

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          • Darynda Jones says:

            Ah, yes, Arlene, and it makes for a more satisfying ending when your characters have to work for it.

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  18. Louise Bergin says:

    Darynda,
    You are so sweet about A WORTHY OPPONENT. I don’t know if I ever told you, but that opening line was developed as part of an exercise during a hooks program for our chapter. When I read it out loud, there was definite interest in the room, so I looked at those words and thought, I’d better write that book.

    Thank you so much for your promotion of it.

    Louise Bergin

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    • Shea Berkley says:

      There you go. It just shows you the power of an opening hook, and I’ve always liked that one, Louise. It’s one of my favorites as well.

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      I love that story, Louise! And I just love the line. It really made the power of a great first line sink in with me.

      Thanks for stopping by!
      ~D~

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  19. Jennifer Hilt says:

    Darynda,
    I loved that you referenced other writers and resources. It is true that in studying others we can improve our own writing—-with alot of thought and effort:)

    Thank you!

    Jennifer

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      Thank you, Jennifer! I completely agree. Although I do love to read books on the craft, possibly too much, I always learn more and can apply what I’ve learned when I study other fabulous writers.

      Thanks again and have a wonderful day!
      ~D~

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  20. Dara says:

    I love this post! You really show what’s needed in order to make your story stand out. And it’s done in such a creative way too!

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  21. rita says:

    You are my Heroine.
    Thank you for this perfect post.

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      Oh, thank you, Rita! I cannot wait for yours!!! I’m so excited about it.

      Hugs and have a great day, you!
      ~D~

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  22. Tammy Baumann says:

    Darynda,

    Great post! While you have the BAM of Emeril, I like to think of you as more the Paula Deen of writing. You’re the sweet lady with a charming wit that isn’t afraid to use butter and SPICE!

    After reading just the first chapters of First Grave, I knew you had all the ingredients for success. You deserve all the sweet desserts heading your way.

    Tammy

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      Tammy, you are so wonderful, as goddesses are wont to be. Hugs and thank you so much!!! You are next, you know. Remember, I’ve read your stuff, girlfriend. I love your stories so much. And I’m still in love with Brad. LOL!

      Luvya!
      ~D~

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  23. Elise Hayes says:

    Darynda, I think you’re *so* right about titles. And I just suck at them. I’ve finally learned that I can’t do them alone. I now enlist friends, critique partners, anyone with that spark of “wit” that I so entirely lack (write a 100,000 word book? no problem. Write a one-to-three word title? Erk!).

    Thanks for the post!

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      LOL, Elise! I so understand! Darn those three words!

      I have to admit, I often have to enlist help with my first lines. I think I’ve mentioned this, but it took three of us to rewrite my opening to First Grave. I think we got it tho! Phew!

      Thanks so much for stopping by!
      ~D~

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      • Elise, I know what you mean. I rack my brain trying to think of a title before I even start a book. I actually had to change the title of my book from ‘His Witness’ to ‘Evil’s Witness”. (much better, IMO) I thought and thought. My editor suggested I look inside my own work for the title. And WOW there it was. So maybe in those 1000,000 words you have the perfect title.

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  24. Fantastic post – thank you for sharing, Darynda!

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  25. Addison Fox says:

    Darynda:

    What an awesome post – so much fun, yet so absolutely SPOT ON! (And I love the first lines….like you, I could happily do that all day!!)

    And what an awesome explaination of voice:

    I recently read the best definition of voice that I’d ever read before. ”Voice is what you bring to the table.” It’s who you are and is built from your own personal experiences. It is your personality shining through your word choices, your wit, the twists and turns you choose to include.

    Congratulations on your sale – I can’t wait to read FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT!!!

    Addison

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      Thank you so much, Addison! Aren’t those first lines fun? I have actually sat in bookstores and (for research purposes only) have read first line after first line from dozens of books. I’m always so curious how others open their masterpieces. It’s fascinating.

      And thanks for stopping by!!!
      ~D~

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  26. Shoshana Brown says:

    Good point about titles. I don’t know why I don’t ever think about their importance in contest success, because they’re a huge part of the way I choose a book when I walk into a bookstore.

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  27. Darynda Jones says:

    Yes, and yours is so cute! It fits your story, is short and fun and I think perfect for YA.

    Congrats and I can’t wait to read Stage Fright!
    ~D~

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  28. Anne-Marie Carroll says:

    Awesome advice, Darynda. Thank you!

    Backloading is very important as well as hooks. I try to work in as many as I can. 🙂 I think I’m going to take the jump this year and enter.

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  29. Katrina says:

    Oooh. You got me on the reading the masters. I love to read the greats, but I’m so afraid of accidentally copying! It’s good advice though.

    I love what you say about the order of the sentence and having the important stuff last. I’ve actually never read anything about this and found it very helpful. I appreciate your thoughtful post.

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    • Vivi Andrews says:

      Since I was about to post exactly what you just said, Katrina, I’m going to just go with, “Ditto!”

      Fabulous recipe. Very interesting to analyze the way sentences are weighted. Thanks, D!

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      Thank you, Katrina and Vivi! I remember when I first learned that and I literally felt a lightbulb come on in my head. I love those moments!

      Thanks again!
      ~D~

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  30. Tina Joyce says:

    Wonderful post, Darynda! Add me to the ranks of those who love to tinker with opening lines. They’re like candy, very addictive! I’m the same way with loglines…so much fun to write (and a great way to procrastinate, lol).

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      Oh, I’m so glad you said that, Tina! I am just now gettting into log lines. I just love them. My problem is I keep coming up with great log lines for things I’m either not writing at the time or will probably never write.

      But they’re great! Very catchy! Now if I can just come up with stuff I actually have written.

      🙂 Thanks for stopping by!
      ~D~

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  31. Elizabeth Langston says:

    You are so right about first lines, first paragraphs, first pages, first anything.

    If anyone wants a little practice at judging first lines, get thee over to Nathan Bransford’s blog. (blog.nathanbransford.com ). He is running a “first paragraph” contest; in 24 hours, it has 1200 entries. Take a look a few hundred of them. It’s a good way to see what you like, what you don’t like, what’s boring, and what pulls you in. Perhaps it might help some of you hone your own first [[whatever]]

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Awesome coincidence! Really valuable to check out!

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      Oh, I love that, Elizabeth! Some of them are great! Some not so much, but JUST as educational. They teach us what NOT to do.

      Hugs you!
      ~D~

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  32. Katrina says:

    This is perfect timing for me, Darynda. I’m just about to hit send and let my first three chapters fly through cyberspace to Jerusalem, where a trusted writer-friend will be the first person (other than me) to see them. She’ll also be getting some questions about things that worry me about my ms, based on your post.

    Thanks so much, especially for laying out so clearly where hooks should be! I think it’s the area where I ‘burn my toast’ the most.

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      I’m so glad, Katrina, and good luck! There’s nothing like sending your baby out there to be shredded by your peers. May your reader scrape the black off your burnt toast! lol

      Thanks for stopping by!
      ~D~

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  33. June Love says:

    Darynda, what an enlightening post. I loved the examples. I’m one of the ones who needs to be shown rather than told. Word placement – thank you, thank you, thank you. It’s one of my weaknesses, but because of your post, I may have gotten it!

    If you can do this with a blog–man, oh, man, I can’t wait to read your book!

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  34. Darynda Jones says:

    Oh, June, thank you so much!!! I get so smart-mouthy sometimes and I don’t think I’m really like that in real-and-true life. LOL. It just comes out in me when I write. My alter-ego, I guess.

    Thank you so much and I am thrilled that I could help! You made my day!
    ~D~

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  35. Helen HP says:

    Thanks for the reminders, Darynda!
    Sometimes I get so into the story I forget the power of a sentence. And vice-verso.

    0
  36. Anna G. says:

    First sentences and opening paragraphs are so tricky. I hate the ones that feel that the author is trying desperately to open with a flashy hook — those always feel “hooky” to me in the worst way. But a really well done first sentence and first paragraph is a thing of beauty. It sets the tone for the whole piece. Reading all the first paragraphs that have popped up on Nathan Bransford’s blog today really drove the power-of-the-opening point home in the best way.

    Titles I’m crap with, unfortunately. Hopefully someday I’ll have an agent or editor who can do with a title what I aim to do with a novel. 🙂

    0
    • Darynda Jones says:

      A thing of beautry, way to put it, Anna! I love the subtle ones too, the ones that creep up on you and just take your breath away. Or pique my interest.

      I’m going over to Nathan’s blog now. Love this stuff!

      Thanks for stopping by!
      ~D~

      0
  37. Rosemary Letson says:

    Darynda,
    I love how you wrote the piece as a recipe, very clever. I agree with everything you said. But what I heard about titles is most publishers will change them and the authors have little say about it. Assuming this is true, does the Golden Heart judges place much weight on the title?
    Thanks again for the recipe. I hope I can cook a delicious entree.

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  38. Darynda Jones says:

    They may not place weight on it consciously, but I do believe it plays a part. Many publishers change the title, but certainly not all, and certainly not if yours is already clever and appropriate. My editor is not changing mine, for example. But I did do the research. I made sure nobody else was already using it and made sure it was catchy, etc.

    Thank you so much for stopping by, Rosemary!
    ~D~

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  39. Darynda,
    This spoke to me. And I’ve heard it before but your take on it got to the point. Made several points with me anyway. Thank you. I’ll print this off and keep for referral.

    Brenda

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      Thank you so much, Brenda! I’m so glad it helped. I have to be reminded of them myself, so I figured by writing a blog, maybe the info would sink in a little deeper. LOL.

      Hugs and thanks for stopping by!
      ~D~

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  40. Darynda you hit the jackpot with comments, congrats. Love the post, love the first lines, Jeaneane Frost is a fav first line I always use when looking at my tired, sagging little firsties. One day, one day.

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  41. Darynda Jones says:

    Thank you, Natalie!!! And I just love Jeaneane’s first line as well. Just sets up her whole book so perfectly.

    Thanks for stopping by!
    ~D~

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