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27: First Chapter Analysis with Katherine Vinson
Episode 276th April 2022 • Writing Pursuits • Kathrese McKee
00:00:00 00:16:35

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Full episode on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/3LTx2NYPDoM

Katherine (Kat) Vinson's website: https://sparksofember.wordpress.com/

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Transcripts

Kathrese:

For episode 27 of Writing Pursuits , I'm featuring

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Kat Vinson in the first chapter of her upcoming novel entitled

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ember. We stepped through her chapter using my first chapter

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rubric. If you are interested in appearing on the show with your

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first chapter, then see the link in the show notes. If the link

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is no longer available, please see my services page on writing

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pursuits.com Welcome to the writing pursuits podcast where

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authors like you discuss writing craft, author life and book

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marketing strategies. I'm your host Kathrese. McKee. I own

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writing pursuits and write and produce the weekly newsletter

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writing pursuits tips for authors. In addition, I am a

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speculative fiction author writing procedures for authors

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who drink too much coffee, endure judgemental looks from

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their furry writing companions and struggle for words. If you

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are a writer seeking encouragement, information and

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inspiration This podcast is for you. Let's get to it. Hey,

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writing precedes authors. Welcome back to the podcast. For

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those of you who are new, I want to extend a special welcome. My

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name is Kathrese McKee, and I'm glad you're here. Please leave a

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comment a star rating and follow the show to help others find

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Writing Pursuits. In this episode, I only include the

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discussion of the hook for Kat Vinson's novel. The full

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discussion of the entire first chapter is on YouTube and I have

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included that link in the show notes. I wanted to keep this

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episode about 15 minutes so that you could just hear it on the

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way to town enjoy the show. Katherine Vinson believes in

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making lemonade from lemons happily ever afters and stories

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with characters who struggled to do the right thing. She's

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married to her first love, and they are raising a beautiful

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teenage daughter in the Florida Panhandle. Her major was cross

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cultural studies, which is her excuse for an obsession with

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Asian TV dramas, and unique fantasy world building. So 16

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year old Ember, the story's called Ember Right, right. A 16

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year old Ember wants to spread her wings and fly, literally,

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but it's forbidden since a human might see. So she runs away from

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the Florida Keys to the Bermuda Triangle to the hidden island

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her people abandoned 18 years ago. And then she breaks a wing

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when 20 year old coal since is someone in a haystack hiding in

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a haystack. He isn't expecting of in Darfur. Okay, did I say

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that right? Then in Darfur? Okay, that's it.

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We'll go with that. Okay, when 20 year old coal since it's

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someone hiding in a haystack he isn't expecting of in Darfur

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teenager. Then she gets herself injured and surrounded by an

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enemy tribe. He only has one option if he wants to protect

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her, bind herself as her keeper. Together, the two must uncover

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the mystery of why embers people left succeed, and her people can

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come home fail, and she may lose her wings forever. All right.

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That's awesome. Pretty good. Pretty good book description.

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It's almost there. I think so. Good deal. Okay, get you out.

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Okay, so, okay, this is a little mind map of the first chapter

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rubric, the thing you need to know is that there is a set of

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global elements up here. From the story rubric. I'm a three

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story method, certified editor. And so we use the story rubric

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all the time, I've developed this first chapter rubric

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because I feel like authors have a hard time with the first

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chapter. It's so important. It's so hard to get right. And I

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think that this will help people perfect the first chapter on

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their own and with the help of you know, an editor if they

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needed. So, in the global elements that were most

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concerned about, there's a global conflict, global choice

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and global consequences. You did a pretty good job of hinting at

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those in your back cover description. So here's the

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global conflict. You know, it could be any of these let me

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move it down a little bit. Character versus self character

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versus character, character versus society. Character versus

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nature character versus technology. Character versus the

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supernatural and character versus fate. I'm thinking yours

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is probably character versus self a little bit, a little bit

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of this. And probably a lot of this in my image, right, right.

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Okay. Actually, yeah, I think that's gonna be where we're at.

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She she's gonna have some some things about herself. Um, I can

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tell with the render that you introduce in the second scene,

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that there's gonna be To be some character versus character

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conflict. That's, that's always a good story. And then the

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overriding thing, though, is kind of the character versus

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society. Right? Yeah. And so and then out of all that conflict

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flows, choices and all the choices to deserve consequences.

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That's what you're kind of promising is that there's going

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to be consequences. So that's where the global elements come

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from. And here in a minute, we're going to read the hook for

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your story. But the thing I'm going to be looking at, are

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these five elements promise, point of view, setting, tone,

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and mood and genre under promise, it's your promising,

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there's going to be answers to the questions you raise, there's

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going to be conflict, and there's going to be satisfaction

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in the end. So all that happens in that, like first three

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paragraphs or so. And then there's the point of view, you

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have to establish point of view, and it needs to be clear and

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engaging. Setting is time in place, you're going to raise

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some questions about the set and through the setting. And it

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gives context, right? So if that's missing, you don't have

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context. Or you don't know what, where you are, what time of day

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it is, that only works if you've got a hostage situation. And

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then And then, Tony is what I mean by that is you're creating

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emotion, and you're promising that it's going to be enjoyable,

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and then you with the genre, you're going to establish the

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genre pretty much right away, and your readers are going to

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think it's going to meet their expectations. So that all has to

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happen in the hook. And that's why we're that's where we're

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going with this. So let's without any more ado, since you

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wrote it, I'm going to let you read it. Okay.

Katherine Vinson:

Clear skies, a strong breeze, and absolutely no

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one around just right for flying. standing at the edge of

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the trees. Ember gazed across declaring scattered with sedges

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and Palmetto plants. She'd found the secluded spot six months

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ago, a barren space deep in the hardwood hammock of the Florida

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Keys, and it had quickly become her favorite hideout. Sliding

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her backpack off her shoulder, the 16 year old peered into the

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top of a nearby Gumbo Limbo tree. There, she spotted the

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familiar broken stub high among the peeling red branches. Her

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bag with red schoolbooks and leftover packed lunch would be

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out of reach of most noisy, noisy creatures up there.

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Running starting to elite and her weeped wings were betweens.

Katherine Vinson:

And for over the crisp snap, she hovered for a half second

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looping the bag on the branch before sneakered feet landed

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back on the forest floor. Now to practice,

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that's a very clear hook. I kind of gave you that

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last sentence, because I felt like it was the hook to the rest

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of it, that you know, leads into the next action that's going to

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happen. Let me show you the rubric. This is what the rubric

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looks like, you know, the actual rubric, not the map. And I

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actually have a table of contents to help people find the

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section they're looking for. I copied your blurb up here or

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your your back cover description. And then this is

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kind of the way it works is every section or in this case,

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it's a subsection has a table and they each have the same

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heading and developed fair, good, excellent. Excellent is

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usually just ridiculously hard to achieve. If you have straight

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Good, you've got a very strong first chapter. And you really

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don't have much to worry about. But this is like the hook is

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likely to be quoted from now on, you know, like, like Pride and

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Prejudice. Everybody knows the first sentence of Pride and

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Prejudice. Right? So that's kind of a little bit unattainable.

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They're gonna print it on bookmarks and T shirts. Okay,

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you know, all right. All right, calm down. But anyway, this is a

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promise of conflict answers to questions, satisfying story. And

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so I say that your hook is original, interesting.

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Immediately questions are raised in the readers mind. Some form

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of conflict is clear. And there's a promise of a

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satisfying story readers want to keep reading, they are hooked.

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So what I what I really liked, let me put that right. Is that

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just right for flying your very first sentence is excellent. So

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clear skies, a strong bliss breeze and absolutely no one

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around. So this hints at conflict right away. She's

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keeping a secret. Right? And that means that somebody would

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be upset if they found her. So well done. And then before the

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end of the first page, I have the following questions in

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broken Fly. Whoa, wait, you know, is she a fairy? What's

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going on here? And why does she have to practice in secret?

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That's my second question. And why did she practicing for? Who

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would keep her from using her wings? And why? And then

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finally, why is she trying to blend in with her clothes.

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That's that part comes next where it describes her clothing

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and the, the effort she's made to blend in. And so really good,

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really good stuff. And that's the first. One of the five

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things we talked about in the hook was the promise. So loads

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of questions, a promise of conflict, I think it's going to

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be a satisfying story. Then the next thing is point of view.

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Well, obviously, we're really in her head. She does. She hasn't

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said anything, but we're in her head. memorable character,

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right? Characterization begins immediately. Or the narrator

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terms the reader in the first three paragraphs, I felt a

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connection to her, you know, the kid after school, who's doing

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something that she thinks she needs to do, but everybody else

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might feel like she doesn't need to do we are strictly in her

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point of view. Also, really well done. Let me go over to your

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manuscript here. We know that her name is ember. We know she's

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16 year old years old. We know she is in school, because of her

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schoolbooks, and leftover, packed lunch. I think that was

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pretty much it. But we know exactly. We know a lot about

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this character already. And also, we know that she has

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wings. Maybe most important of all, we know she has wings. So

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let's go back to our rubric here. The setting if you set the

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setting very well, clearly scattered with hedges and palm,

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Palmetto plants, hardwood hammock of the Florida Keys. So

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we know kind of where we're at. Florida Keys are those little

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island chain of islands at the end of Florida that a lot of

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people haven't been to gumbo, Limbo tree, peeling red

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branches, nosy creatures, and you can guess what time of day

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it is. Because he mentioned the leftover lunch and the fact that

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she's had you know, it's afternoon. So that's very clear.

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And it's placed in time. So setting is is communicated well

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within without you didn't do Oh, it was three o'clock after

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school.

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I had just walked down and I hid myself in the woods. And I did

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this and this and this and this and you you did that without a

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bunch of of information dumping. You just stuck it in there. Oh,

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the little details were sprinkled in. So I felt like

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that was very deftly handled. Okay, tone and mood. I again, I

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said good. The hook sets a clear tone and mood, the word choices

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and phrasing original engaging. readers feel confident they will

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enjoy the experience because of the author's tone and the

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emotions they feel at the beginning. Make them look

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forward to getting on with the story. Immediately. I was I was

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intrigued because this is her favorite hideout would be out of

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reach of most nosy creatures. I want to know what kind of

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creatures are in this woods that would be interested in stuff.

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Absolutely no one around. And then I loved the Senate, her web

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wings unfurled with a crisp snap. She has sneakered feet.

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And now to practice that is a very great way of starting your

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characterization. Not only does she want to do something in

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secret, but she's evidently disciplined enough to want to

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practice which is like, wow, that's kind of unusual for a 16

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year old. I don't know about you, but I didn't want to

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practice anything when I was 16. So the reader consent, embers

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satisfaction and her anticipation, they can feel

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confident they will enjoy the experience. Okay, final section

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of the hook is genre. The hook establishes the genre of the

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story and makes a promise that it will be consistent with genre

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expectations. I'm going to say this is a contemporary fantasy.

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Yeah. And so what we have here is just right for flying right

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away. We get this little hook here that tells us something's

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going on. And then she has webbed wings and she flies up,

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hooks her bat back on the branch and then she plops back down to

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the ground. So clearly she's not a normal human. So well done.

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And that's the The end of this episode, I want to thank Kat for

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letting me be a part of her project for letting me read her

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first chapter and feature it here. I can hardly wait to read

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Ember when it comes out. It's going to be great. Remember that

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the full episode is on YouTube at the link in the show notes.

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And that's all I have for today. Until next time, thank you for

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joining us today. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a

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comment and follow the podcast. If you're new around here. I

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hope you will sign up for the weekly newsletter writing

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pursuits. Tips for authors that link and all the links mentioned

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in today's episode are in the show notes at writing

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pursuits.com. Please join us on Wednesdays for new episodes and

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keep writing my friends. Keep writing

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