Ways to Identify If & Why Your Setup Doesn’t Hook

Nobody goes into writing a book and thinks “I’m going to write a story that doesn’t hook.” But everybody worries about writing a story that doesn’t hook. 

And most importantly, you don’t always know you’ve written bad setup. Not only because you’ve been living with the story for a while (whether you’ve been writing it or seriously contemplating the events before you even sit down to write it). But also, there’s very much the possibility that you think you’ve communicated your setup to the reader in a way that makes sense, and the reader won’t perceive it that way.

Either way, it’s always a good idea to temperature check your setup and make sure that it’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing. 

Don’t know what setup is? Check out my video on defining setup!

The safest option for authors who might not know if setup is their strong suit, or writers who just want to incorporate checking the effectiveness of their setup as part of their writing or revising process, is to run a series of diagnostics.

Diagnostics are super helpful in just double-checking whether or not you’re including the right information in your setup, and if your setup is creating the right expectations for the story you intend to tell or have already told.

Whether you run these diagnostics before your book gets edited, during revisions, or use them to inform writing your next book, diagnostics are really there to help you identify your setup strengths and weaknesses.

So, let’s explore some ways you can identify if and why your setup doesn’t hook a reader.

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The Opening Character Moment | #ConvosOnCraft with Mary Calmes


Episode Description

It was super hard not to fangirl over THE Mary Calmes y’all! But we definitely went deep into her backlist, talking about nailing those opening character moments and the things you have to keep in mind when you’re writing and revising them.

A transcript of this episode is also available as a blog post at https://theribbonmarker.com/2022/01/15/the-opening-character-moment–convosoncraft-with-mary-calmes/.

Leave a voice message for Kate on Anchor at anchor.fm/kate-marope/message.

Interested in supporting Path to Print on Ko-Fi? You can donate at ko-fi.com/theribbonmarker.


Show Notes / Episode Transcript

Kate Marope (00:00:00):

This is Kate Marope, and you’re listening to Path to Print.

<intro music>

Kate Marope (00:00:10):

This week, we have our first guest episode on a segment that I like to fondly call Convos on Craft. Convos on Craft episodes are all about peeling back the curtain and getting into the nitty-gritty of how you put together your story from the developmental side of things. Me and my guests will talk about process, book stats, resources, and advice to help you grow into the amazing author I know you already are.

Today, I’m joined by an amazing author. Someone who is an auto-buy and comfort read author for me. Seriously, as soon as I knew this quarter’s topic would be about setups she was the first person I thought of asking to talk about opening your book with iconic character moments.

She believes in romance, happily ever afters, and the faith it takes for her characters to get there. She bleeds coffee, thinks chocolate should be its own food group, and currently lives in Kentucky with a five pound furry ninja that protects her from baby birds, spiders and neighbors’ dogs.

Welcome to the podcast, Mary Calmes.

Continue reading “The Opening Character Moment | #ConvosOnCraft with Mary Calmes”

Why You Should Write Character-Centric Humor

Picture this.

Alexa is a woman who values honesty, fidelity, and a good nature. She’s good people, always there with a kind word and a helping hand. But don’t get her angry; she’s a firecracker.

She goes for a business lunch, and as she comes back from the bathroom, who does she see, but her boyfriend, Todd, eating with her best friend, Cindy. That would be okay, if she hadn’t left him at their apartment that morning, plied with Hay fever medication to combat the treacherous pollen that decided to wreak havoc on his delicate system. It was so bad, Todd called in sick.

When Todd and Cindy lean in for a kiss, Alexa interjects, “What the hell is going on here?” 

And for a second, Todd and Cindy look very guilty. But slowly, Todd cracks a smile. The smile sets off Cindy’s giggles.

Surprise! It’s a cheating prank.

giphy1

Alexa is hella pissed at the Todd (after finding out it’s a prank). She resents him for thinking infidelity is a laughing matter, and punches him in the face.

The look on Todd’s face? Priceless.

At least she hadn’t grabbed his steak knife.

Continue reading “Why You Should Write Character-Centric Humor”