This is Where it Starts by Author Margot Kinberg

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This is Where it Starts

 

Thanks so much for having me here, Benjamin! It’s a privilege. One of the things that many writers struggle with is how to begin their stories. And that’s not just a problem for new writers, either. Even very experienced writers can find that first bit of a story to be a challenge.

There are lots of different ways to get started, and no one way is ‘the right way.’ So, I can just share the approach that’s worked for me. I write crime fiction, and, most of the time, that means that at least one character is going to get killed. The thing is, though, that most of us couldn’t imagine taking a life. So, if a story’s going to be believable, there has to be something about the victim that gives someone a compelling reason to kill.

That’s one reason I start my stories by introducing the victim in some way. I want readers to get a sense of who this person is (or was). Then, I hope I can convince them that this is a plausible murder victim. Starting a story with the victim also gives me the chance to make that character seem like a real human being. This, I hope, invites the reader to engage in the story.

I’ve used different strategies to introduce the victim. In my first two novels, the first sentence of the story takes us into the victim’s life. Here, for instance, is the first sentence of B-Very Flat:

‘Serena Brinkman smiled as she took a deep breath of the crisp October air.’

The next sentences place Serena on the campus of (fictional) Tilton University, where she is a student. Then, she encounters other characters, and readers get a sense (I hope) of what her relationships with those characters are, and why she would become a victim.

In my second two novels, the victim’s basically dead before the story really starts (although in one, the victim dies in the prologue). Those novels begin as the victim’s death is discovered, and the police, as well as my sleuth, Joel Williams, start to ask questions. That approach lets me offer the ‘hook’ of a murder case to the reader, and still lets me introduce the victim as the case is investigated.

There are, of course, lots of other ways to start a story and invite readers to engage themselves. Some crime writers introduce a story with the sleuth. Others start with a particularly compelling setting or incident. I do it by introducing the victim, but there really is no one ‘correct’ approach. As long as the story gets the reader’s attention, that’s what matters.

Thanks again for hosting me, Benjamin!

 

 

Margot Kinberg

 

 

About Margot Kinberg

 

Margot Kinberg is a mystery author and Associate Professor. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Kinberg graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, then moved to Philadelphia, which Kinberg still considers home.

Kinberg had always been fascinated by crime fiction and mystery novels. In fact, she became an “addict” while still in her teens. So in 2007, she began her fiction writing career with her debut novel, Publish or Perish. In that novel, Kinberg put her experience in the world of higher education to use in creating a murder mystery that takes place at fictional Tilton University. This story introduces Joel Williams, a former police detective-turned-professor, who teaches in Tilton University’s Department of Criminal Justice. In this first outing, Williams helps solve the murder of a graduate student. The second in Kinberg’s Joel Williams series is B-Very Flat, in which Williams helps to solve the murder of a young violin virtuosa who dies suddenly on the night of an important musical competition. Kinberg’s third Joel Williams novel, Past Tense, begins when a set of bones is discovered at a construction site on campus. This case ties in with a missing person case from 1974.

Kinberg, who now lives with her family in Southern California, is currently at work on her fourth Joel Williams novel.

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Andrew Stanton: The Clues To a Great Story

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Andrew Stanton: The clues to a great story

 

 

 

 

 

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@andrewstanton

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

How a Newbie Writer Navigates Completing a Novel Without a Compass

 

 

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“HOW A NEWBIE WRITER NAVIGATES COMPLETING A NOVEL WITHOUT A COMPASS”

 

As a veteran, I learned early in my career that you need to plan to succeed, or you’ll fail from the lack of planning. But I didn’t adhere to this mantra when it came to writing. To me writing starts with an idea, a nugget of inspiration, or a pearl of wisdom. Actually, for me it started with the knowledge my cousin had written a story. It was a cozy murder-mystery set in the California wine country. But alas, he left it, unfinished, never to see the light of day. I mentioned to my wife that writing should end with the story being released to the masses. I decided I would write my own story, which I took on as a form of therapy from my day job, oddly enough, as a technical writer.

With my wife’s encouragement, I dove into the deep end. With a snippet of guidance from an online blurb on ‘writing your first novel,’ I started at the end, the dramatic finish. I soon realized I had no idea how to begin, having just created my ending. So, staring at the blank page of MS Word, I started to type what floated about between my ears. Soon, I realized, I had lost my way. My trouble lay before in not keeping track of characters, locations, scenes, and most importantly, time.

But, each evening, I would sit at my laptop, headphones in place putting a string of words together. After receiving feedback from fellow writers, I realized my passion had become a monster, and I had pantsed my way to nearly 113,000 words. After a moment of soul searching (and a few drams of Scotch), I pared my story in half. With each passing verse from ABBA to ZZ Top, I soon found myself reaching that first chapter I had written, the dramatic finish. After five and a half months, and over seventy-five-thousand words, I was finally able to type ’THE END’ to my first novel “The Irishman’s Deception.” Along the way I also took some of the fallen pieces and created a second novel, “Suspicious by Design.”

Over this time, I learned there is a 3-Part Act, there are emotional needs and inciting events, all parts of the story that should be included. Though I didn’t follow the ‘rules’ which so many others cite in their own terminology, I did learn that even though I enjoy the thrill of spewing forth words unencumbered on my laptop, it pays to have a few cheat sheets.

I now use a single sentence to establish my scenes, a sheet listing my characters and their relationships, and several shelves burdened with references. And thankfully, the ever-present hot key linking me to the internet, which allows me to view a myriad of information that the famous writers of yesteryear could only dream of.

Even though I’ve grown and continue to learn about the craft of writing, for me, the pleasure still remains in the act of writing what I’ve dreamed of, what inspires and intrigues me. And to think, it all started with an idea.

 

By Anthony J. Harrison

 

 

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Resources:

Can You Structure If You’re a Pantser?

Common Pantser Writing Challenges

 

 

 

 

From Author To Screenwriter: Tips For Taking your Books To Hollywood With Huss McClain

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From Author To Screenwriter: Tips For Taking your Books To Hollywood With Huss McClain

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think? Tell us in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

Mark Dawson’s Book Lab Part 2 with Helena

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Booklab 2 featuring Helena

 

 

 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

The Power of Collaboration with Mark Dawson

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SPF Podcast 126 Rhett Bruno & Steve Beaulieu Collaboration

 

 

 

 

How do you feel about collaboration? Tell us in the comments!

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

Strangers to Superfans. Book Marketing With David Gaughran

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Strangers to Superfans. Book Marketing With David Gaughran

 

 

 

 

 

 

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From the author of Let’s Get Digital and Let’s Get Visible, this book will change how you think about marketing. Strangers to Superfans puts you in the shoes of your Ideal Readers, and forces you to view your marketing from their perspective.

*Learn the five stages in the Readers’ Journey.
*Identify where your blockages are and how to fix them.
*Optimize each stage to increase conversion.
*Boost sales by making the process more frictionless.
*Build an army of passionate readers who do the selling for you.

It’s not enough to know who your Ideal Readers are, you also need to imagine how they feel when a recommendation email arrives containing your cover. You must figure out why they hesitated before clicking the Buy button. And it’s crucial to determine why they liked your book enough to finish it… but not sufficiently to recommend it to their friends.

The Reader Journey is a new marketing paradigm that maps out the journey your Ideal Readers take in their transformation from strangers to superfans.

 

Amazon | Goodreads | Website

 

 

 

What did you take away from this interview? Tell us in the comments!

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

 

Joanna Penn and Jeff Haden Discuss Writing & the Motivation Myth

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY!

 

 

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The Motivation Myth. How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up To Win With Jeff Haden

 

 

 

 

 

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What stuck with you from this interview? Tell us in the comments!

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

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How to Shift from Hobby Writer to Pro Writer with Honoree Corder

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY

 

 

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How to Shift from Hobby Writer to Pro Writer with Honoree Corder

 

 

 

 

Do you have an accountability writing partner to help you achieve your dreams?

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

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The Business Of Being A Writer With Jane Friedman

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The Business Of Being A Writer With Jane Friedman

 

 

 

 

You’re missing out if you haven’t picked up this book yet!

 

 

Business of being a writer

 

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

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