#2 of only 12 sentences you need to define your entire novel.
The first part of your novel is the Setup. It has 5 missions. The first is setting a killer hook, giving the reader something so compelling they don’t even consider not reading your book.
The Setup makes up the first 25% of your novel. It takes that long to meet the 5 missions. Shortchange your readers in the Setup and you’ll struggle to create empathy for your characters. Without that emotional connection the stakes fall flat.
Besides the Hook, the Setup has 4 more missions:
- Introduce a hero in whom the reader recognizes themselves. They need to empathize. The reader needs to get a sense of what the heroes inner demons are. His backstory, the world views and attitudes and prejudices and fears that defined him and hold him back. What are his untapped strengths, his secrets?
- Establishing stakes. The more the hero and others have at stake as they pursue their new goal, the more tension the story will have. Life and death are not always the greatest stakes.
- Foreshadow events to come. While new characters and ideas can be introduced right up until the Second Plot Point, 75% of the way into your story, the more you can set up now, the better. The best foreshadowing is not recognized as such when it occurs.
- Prepare for launch. The pace and focus of the scenes need to unfold in context to, if not directly pointed at, the First Plot Point. When events conspire to force our hero onto the path of this quest, your readers should feel the emotional release of something completely expected, something they’ve felt building from page 1.
Write one (long and rambling, if necessary) sentence to describe how the Setup will meet its 4 additional missions after the Hook.
Tomorrow, #3: The First Plot Point.