Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog! This is my journey, my first steps into the world of fictional writing. This blog is an online journal of sorts, where I share the progress of my work as well as what I have learned along the way. I hope you enjoy your time with me and that my experience may be of some use to you.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Opening Hooks

Welcome Back!

    A while back in my post “Current Projects Part 3”, there was mention on how I came up with a “hook” for my first chapter. It recently dawned on me that I never looked at that subject in depth. So after doing some further research, here is what I found regarding Opening Hooks.

Luring them in.

The purpose of a fishing lure is to draw attention, allow its targets to grab onto it, in order to finally reel them in. In storytelling, the Opening Hook is a literary technique found in the first few lines, paragraphs or even pages, which plays a similar (but much less painful) role. It’s goal is to draw the audience into the story by piquing their interest, and holding onto to their attention long enough to make them want to continue reading.

To achieve this, a writer must find the correct balance of information to give the reader in order to feed their Narrative Drive. Too much and the reader will lose interest, too little and the reader will be less motivated to continue. To properly “bait the hook”, we need to give out enough details so that the readers are curious about what is going on, but not enough for them to know what is happening. Successfully creating this eagerness within the audience will allow them to be immersed in the story by making them want to learn more or find out what happens next.

    A compelling Opening Hook should focus on specific details from the story, such as characters or setting, rather than generalized ideas. Here are four basic approaches:

1. Introduction of a character:

Arguably one of the more popular methods is to begin a story with the introduction of the main character. Revealing key features of an intriguing character creates a bond with the reader, drawing them in. It is important to remember to adequately introduce the character to the audience, giving them time to adjust before throwing said characters into the action.  Furthermore, introducing too many characters simultaneously will bombard the reader with too much information, making it difficult for them to tell who’s who.

2. Description of the setting:

Introducing readers to the setting by describing key features allows the audience to paint a picture in their minds. By controlling the information and details that are revealed, the writer can create a sense of mystery, therefore motivating the reader to find out more. As mentioned earlier, giving too much information will cause the reader to lose interest, therefore initial descriptions must be kept short, saving the crucial details for when they are needed.

3. A pivotal moment in time:
One of the main reasons we continue to read a story is to find out what happens next. By starting a story in a specific moment, one where there is some catalyzing action taking place, causing the reader to wonder why are these events happening. Writer’s may also begin their tale from the middle, making readers wonder what events lead to that situation (this technique is called In medias res, see my previous post called “Plot Twists” for more details).

4. Beginning with an uncommon situation:
Unusual circumstances will pique reader’s curiosity, intensifying their desire to understand or deduce the cause. An example of a compelling way to start your story would be to use a contrarian approach. By creating a situation with a strong contrast, the writer will succeed in engaging the audience right away. For example; finding a body in the middle of a desert that died from frostbite. Creating an unknown, then leaving clues to solve it, can be a satisfying reward for the reader.

    There are a few approaches to avoid when working on an Opening Hook. Writers will want to steer clear from starting their story with dialogue. Until the audience can have an idea of who is talking, opening with dialogue may confuse the reader. Another thing to be careful of is adding too much information, as excessive description or irrelevant details will turn off the reader and discourage them from continuing.

    This concludes my lesson on Opening Hooks. I can't wait to be able to share mine with you. Hopefully this post has proven to be some use to you.

Until next time.


Patrick Osborne

Monday, May 25, 2015

Inspiration Part 1 - Wool Mill Ruins

Welcome Back!

        Over the past few months, I have been helping my lovely wife Linda with her new business. One of the ways I assist her is with vendor events; I load up the car, drive her to various locations and help her set up her booth. While she is doing her thing, I am left to my own devices. Up to now, I have been using this time by reading or writing.
        Recently, I have discovered another interesting way to pass the time: exploring! Many of these vendor events are in small towns and rural villages. Many of which have historical sites, abandoned vehicles or deserted buildings. I have found that this sightseeing can be good inspirational material for writing.

           So with this in mind, I came up with a new type of post: Inspiration! These entries will contain photos of my travels, of interesting locations i have come across or just other randoms things that help get my imagination going.

        My first location was a historical site in the town of Merrickville, Ontario. Some parts of these old ruins were blocked off to the public for safety reasons, but other parts were open, allowing me to get inside the actual remains.


        Some parts of these ruins give me the impression of being a castle that suffered an attack, it’s walls broken down. But this location was actually a mill. Here is the details on the historical plaque:

“Built in 1844 -Woolen mill leased to Thomas Watchorn - later bought - ran until Nov. 1, 1954 - 106 years - standing on the upper floor, you could feel the floor move as the shuttles were thrown back and forth in the looms - there had been 2 fires and so the mortar had become unstable, resulting in its closure.”

        Hope this has inspired some of you! I look forward to posting more pictures of my future explorations!

Until next time!


Patrick Osborne
(edited on 2015-12-22)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

BOOT CAMP LESSON 2: Integration

Welcome back!

Time for the second installment of BOOTCAMP! Today’s lesson is called Integration, and will focus on how to incorporate a character into it’s environment.

Lesson 2: Integration

Every character should feel like they belong with their surroundings. Professional writers will sometimes be tasked with creating new characters for pre-established works. It is their job to research the existing environment in order to build a character to match. It becomes painfully obvious if a character was created without taking the environment into consideration, as that character will stick out like a sore thumb! Image watching the play Macbeth with Frankenstein's Monster as the star.

The goal of today’s writing game will be to take one of the offered candidates and find a plausible way of integrating them in the suggested environments.

So, here are todays guidelines!

  1. Below are 5 "candidates". Select ONE of them to work with.
  2. Next are my suggestions for 5 stylized worlds/environments.
  3. Write a short description of a story for the candidate you selected for EACH environment type.
  4. All 4 short story descriptions must have a limit of 20 phrases each!
  5. Within each short story description you will write, you must include: WHO the character is, and demonstrate how he/she belongs in this environment.
  6. The candidate you selected may be modified to fit the environment you selected, BUT must remain true to the original design as much as possible.


Candidate 1: The Tin Man

Candidate 2: King Arthur

Candidate 3: Sherlock Holmes

Candidate 4: Santa Claus

Candidate 5: Red Riding Hood


Environment 1: Post Apocalyptic

For one reason or another, the world has gone through a terrible change. Civilization as we know it no longer exists, and those who managed to stay alive must now scavenge for supplies and fight other survivors for resources.

Environment 2: Police Drama

Detectives, SWAT teams, Bomb Squads, Computer Crimes Division, Police Precincts, Forensics, etc. Law enforcement attempts to put a stop to illegal activity or investigating mysteries by tracking down various sources or suspects.
Environment 3: Super Heroes

Superheroes strive to uphold justice and bring balance to society. Unlike the normal police force, superheroes have strange powers to assist them in dealing with super criminals that are a threat on a global scale.

Environment 4: Retro Sci-fi

Retro Sci-fi can be described as the future as seen from the past, or the past as seen from the future. Influenced by the scientific, technological, and social awareness of the present, this world reflects the best humanity can hope for.
Environment 5: Deserted Island

Being stranded on a deserted island, the character must to live off the land by finding food, water and shelter. Characters may also be forced to deal with isolation, or else face possible insanity.

For those who aren’t afraid to share their entries, feel free to submit your entries as a reply to this post. Remember, this is a game, so no posting bad comments about other people's entries. If some simply want to share in private, send me a message via twitter @OzmosisCoH.

Now go! Create! And most importantly, have fun!

Until Next time!


Patrick Osborne

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Word Economy

Welcome Back!
In my last post, we saw the importance of Showing and Telling, and how adding the right amount of details for the right reasons can help immerse the reader in your story. I would like to follow this lesson by taking a look at the principle of Word Economy.
I found this quote on the subject, which I felt was appropriate:
"So the writer who breeds more words than he needs is making a chore for the reader who reads." ~ Dr. Seuss
I will admit needing more practice when it comes to wording my thoughts. My case can probably be accounted to the fact English isn’t my first language, causing me to occasionally create length in my descriptions from lacking of a better word. My wife (bless her patient heart) will also testify that I can be long winded when retelling stories. So I will be taking this lesson seriously, in the hopes to improve my writing.
Word Economy is essential in places where size limits are in effect, especially in the likes of newspapers and magazines, where space is charged by the letter. Authors thinking of self-publishing may also wish to take this into consideration, as cutting back a few pages means saving on production costs.
Working with restrictions.

The point of Word Economy is not to cut back on what you are trying to say, but to reduce the amount of words needed to convey the same message. By being more concise, your writing will not only be easier to understand, but will be less of a hassle for the audience to go through, therefore increasing their interest and sense of immersion.
In order to avoid being too verbose, there are two areas an author can edit their text: content and wording.
In regards to content, if you find cutting a paragraph, page or chapter has no impact on the overall story, then odds are it needs to be removed. When editing your work, remember what the point of the story is and judge if the content leads the readers to it, or drags them away. Seeing your hard work hit the editing room floor is never easy, but is often necessary in the bigger picture.
Sometimes merging content can help reduce the size of your work. In my case, my book had six main protagonists which I managed to bring down to four by merging three of them. The final result was one solid character, as opposed to three weak ones.
In regards to wording, the point is to tighten one’s writing by eliminating unnecessary words. Using embellishing details may enrich the subject matter, but adding too much will cause the point to be lost in the verbiage. An author’s goal is to get their ideas across by employing the appropriate vocabulary while making their work as concise as possible.

Professionals recommend not worrying about Word Economy while writing your first draft, as it simply slows you down and stress over details. Concentrate on getting the writing done, then go through it for editing purposes. Common issues linked to improper wording are listed below.
  • Vague Expressions: Avoid using lengthy descriptions instead of one precise word to explain a concept. Examples:
    • He said in a low, soft voice / He whispered
    • Recurring multiple times / Recurring often
    • Happened on a few occasions / Happened occasionally
    • He walked on unsteadily / He staggered on
  • Redundancies: Avoid using words that have the same meaning or communicate the same effect. Examples:
    • Safe Haven
    • First Priority
    • Broken Shard
    • Join Together
  • Clichés: Avoid using familiar expressions when individual words will suffice. If a cliché is required for your story, try modifying it to fit your theme. Example:
    • Rendered null and void / Negated
    • It was a step in the right direction / It was progress
    • The results left much to be desired / The results were unsatisfactory
    • These are a dime a dozen / These are cheap
  • Strong Verbs: Avoid using the passive tense when possible. Try replacing passive verbs with active ones. The right verb can properly describe the action without the need of an adjective or adverb accompanying it. Example:
    • He was taught by the teacher / The teacher taught him
    • The cargo was loaded by the workers / The workers loaded the cargo
    • The building had been completely destroyed by fire / Fire had ravaged the building
    • The dog was verbally punished by his owner / The owner scolded his dog
  • Excessive Clarification: Avoid using obvious, over-specific descriptions. These can often be spotted containing “of the” within them. Examples:
    • The door of the car was open / The car door was open
    • It fell through the window of the house / It fell through the house window
    • Employees from the film agency / Film agency employees
    • He is responsible for the filing of the taxes / He is responsible for filing the taxes
  • Exaggerated Embellishing: Avoid using an abundance of descriptive words or it will bog down the text. Leave some interpretation to the audience's imagination. Example:
    • The blue sky and green fields were a beautiful sight / The sky and fields were a beautiful sight
    • The young teen was extremely hungry for his snack of choice / The teen was ravenous for his favorite snack
    • We clumsily rolled down the old, creaky stairs / We tumbled down the archaic stairs
    • The old soldier gave a big, warm smile at the young child / the veteran gleamed at the infant
  • Filters: Avoid using words that serve to announce an action, otherwise known as a filter. In some cases, we do not need to broadcast an event, but simply to let it happen. Example:
    • John felt something touch his leg / Something touched John’s leg
    • Ana began researching on the subject / Ana researched the subject
    • Carter started running to the exit / Carter ran to the exit
    • Vivian looked at the rising water level around her / The water level was rising around Vivian
  • Intensifiers: Avoid using words whose only purpose is to increase the value of another word, without adding anything to the description. Most common offenders for this are “very” and “really”. Example:
    • Very Loud / Deafening
    • Really Big / Huge
    • Very Fast / Quick,
    • Really Slow / Lethargic

  • Literary Crutches: Some words are deemed meaningless, as they are viewed as the written version of a verbal pause (i.e. “ummm”). We hear these words every day, but never really thought about how to get around without using them. The most common ones are “that”, “could” and “there”. Example:
    • I believe that is true / I believe it’s true
    • He could feel the knife in his back / He felt the knife in his back
    • There is a room beyond this door / A room is beyond this door
    • It was nowhere that it could be seen / it was nowhere to be seen
By mastering the Show don’t Tell technique from my previous lesson, along with today’s Word Economy lesson, I believe I will be on the correct path to improve my writing to a much more professional sounding degree. I hope this post helped you in some fashion.
That is all for today, until next time.
Patrick Osborne
(edited February 10th, 2016)